The BJP fielded six Muslims among its 611 candidates, or less than one per cent, in the five states that have just completed voting. The Congress, contesting all 630 seats in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, compared better with 29 candidates but even these constituted only 4.6 per cent of its total.
The two major parties also fielded a low number of women, about one in every 10 candidates each, with the BJP’s 65 out of 611 (10.6 per cent) marginally upstaging the Congress’s 64 out of 630 (10.2 per cent).
Both parties combined, the 35 Muslimcandidates constituted 2.82 per cent of the total 1,241 they fielded, while the 129 women candidates made up 10.39 per cent. Muslims constitute 13.4 per cent of the country’s population, and women 48.5 per cent, according to the last census figures.
The proportion of Muslim candidates, though several times lower than that of women, was in fact a marginal improvement since 2008. Compared to the 35 Muslim candidates put up by the two parties now, there were 32 in 2008, 27 from the Congress and five from the BJP.
The BJP fielded one of its current six Muslim candidates in Madhya Pradesh, the first time in 15 years that it had nominated a Muslim there. It fielded none in Chhattisgarh, where the Congress had two. Neither party fielded a Muslim in Mizoram.
The number of women the two parties fielded this time, on the other hand, was fewer than in 2008, when they had fielded 143 — the Congress 71 and the BJP 72.
In Delhi, the Congress gave six of 70 seats to women while the BJP gave five. They roughly matched each other in the number of women they fielded in the other states, too.