Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Representation of Muslims in the first Indian Parliament: 21 elected, 4 nominated members in the Lok Sabha election in 1951-1952

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Four years after independence [and partition], India had gone to polls. The first general election was held in 1951-52. Even in that era, substantial number of Muslims were elected to the Lok Sabha.

Surprisingly, many publications say that there were just 11 Muslims in the first parliament, the truth is that the figure was much more. It is strange how and when '11' was assumed to be the number of Muslims elected in the first general election.

In fact, as many as twenty (21) Muslims were elected to the first Lok Sabha, and there were four nominated members too from the Muslim community, taking the number to 25.

The wins and the representation of Muslims in the lower house of parliament, at that point of time suggested that independent India had a secure place [and future] for minorities. Most of the Muslim candidates won on Congress ticket.

There were many stalwarts who were member of the first Lok Sabha. Some had to be fielded from Muslim majority constituencies too as Congress didn't want to take risk of their losing the election, due to polarisation. However, the Congress was so popular then, that its Muslim candidates won easily.

The Muslim members of the first parliament represented different regions. Most of them were elected from Uttar Pradesh (UP), Hyderabad and Bihar. Here is recalling the names and constituencies of the 20 Muslims who won in the election:

1. Congress stalwart Maulana Hifzur Rahman had won from Moradabad (UP). He had secured 97,000 votes against his rival Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) candidate Hari Raj Sarup who got around 50,000 votes

2. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad had won from Rampur. He had got 1.08 lakh votes, defeating Hindu Mahasabha (HMS) candidate, Bishan Chandra Seth by 35,000 votes from Rampur (UP)

3. General Shahnawaz Khan [of Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army viz. INA] had won on Congress ticket from Meerut. He had got 1.25 lakh votes and his rival, the Ram Rajya Parishad (RRP) candidate Suraj Bal Swami could manage just 36,136 votes.

4. In Hardoi (UP), Congress candidate Colonel Syed Bashir Husain Zaidi had got 1.11 lakh votes and had won the election.

5. Congress' MA Kazmi had secured 46,000 votes to defeat Ram Rajya Parishad (RRP) candidate Surendra Pratap Sahi by a margin of nearly 20,000 votes from Sultanpur (UP)

6. Chaudhari Hyder Husain, who was Congress candidate from Gonda (UP), had defeated Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) candidate Dikshit Deomani Acharya.

7. Senior Congress leader Rafi Ahmad Kidwai had defeated RRP candidate Rameshwar from Bahraich (UP). Kidwai had got 47,000 votes while his rival got just 22,000.

8. In Bihar, Syed Mahmood had won on Indian National Congress [Congress] ticket from Chambaran East

9. Also, in Bihar, Mohammad Islamuddin, had won on Congress ticket from Purnea North East. He got 
89,000 votes compared to his rival who got just 21,000 votes.

10. In Ranchi (Bihar), Congress' A Ibrahim had defeated Socialist Praty's Ajit Nath Banerjee.

11. In Assam, Amjad Ali had won on Socialist Party (SP) ticket from Goalpara Garo Hill constituency.

12. In Central India [today's Madhya Pradesh], Syed Ahmad had won from Hoshangabad, a constituency near Bhopal. He had defeated HV Kamath, who contested as an independent by just 174 votes. 

13. In Chanda constituency, Mulla Abdullabhai Taherali had won by a huge margin of 87,000. He fought on Congress ticket and got 1.42 lakh votes, compared to 55,000 garnered by his opponent. The constituency is now in Maharashtra.

14. In Bhopal (MP), Saeedullah Khan Razmi had won from one of the two seats in Bhopal, then. He secured 48,000 votes and defeated Hindu Mahasabha (HMS) candidate Udhav Das Mehta who got 34,000 votes.

15. In Murshidabad (West Bengal), Mohammad Khuda Baksh defeated independent Dhirendra Nath Rai. Bakhsh who contested on Congress ticket, got 1.24 lakh votes while Rai got 52,000.

16. In Kalnakatwa (WB), Congress' Abdus Sattar had defated HMS' Ashutosh Lahiri by a substantial margin. 

17. In Hyderabad city, Congress' Ahmad Mohiuddin had defeated PDF's Makhdoom Mohiuddin by 16,000 votes. [Makhdoom had fought two elections that year, one LS, another Assembly. He had lost both of them, but later won Assembly election from Huzurnagar, was also MLC, later.]

18. In Hyderabad's Bidar constituency, Congress' Shoukatullah Shah Ansari had got 92,000 votes and defeated Socialist party's RV Bidap who got just 38,000 votes

19. In Ibrahimpatam (Hyderabad), Sadat Ali Khan had defeated SCF Subbiah.

20. Akbarbhai Chavda had won from Banaskantha on Congress ticket.

21. B Pocker. At first-glance, one may not count the name of B Pocker in the list of MPs (members of the first parliament).

Among the stalwarts, B Pocker, had won on Madras State Muslim League (MML), which later became IUML, defeating the Congress candidate from Malappuram constituency.

B Pocker Sahib Bahadur who hailed from Malabar (Kerala), was earlier also a member of the constituent assembly.

The FOUR other MPs or nominated members from Jammu and Kashmir [All Jammu Kashmir National Conference] included:

22. Ghulam Qader Bhat
23. Mohd. Akber Sofi
24. Muhammad Shaffee Choudhri
25. Maulana Mohammad Saeed Masoudi

It was a difficult period, post-1947, refugees' settlement, issue of custodian's excesses were affecting
Muslims. But many of these leaders were part of freedom struggle who had moral authority, and their
presence, speeches like that of Maulana Hifzur Rahman Seoharvi, gave strength, reassurance to the community in that era.
Of course, the number of Muslim MPs, even now, is disproportionate to their numerical strength, much
less. But also, few Muslim MPs are vocal. Among the 26-odd MPs elected to Parliament in 2019, several
MPs from UP, WB remain silent, inert. Some of them are well educated.

It's not just speaking inside Parliament, an active MP who speaks outside too, gets attention. He can raise
important issues, intervene, shape narrative, bring focus on lot of things outside Parliament. But this needs
hard work, study, passion and interest.

[Andhra Pradesh was formed later in 1956. Till then, the state was known as Hyderabad]
[The first general elections were held from October 1951 to February 21 1952. The election was unique in many ways. At that time, there were 314 constituencies with one seat, 86 with two seats [two MPs who were winners from the constituency] and one with three seats. The multi-seat constituencies were abolished in the 1960s. These seats simultaneously elected one general candidate and scheduled caste and/or scheduled tribe candidates. CLICK HERE & CLICK HERE]

For the list of the members of the first Lok Sabha, CLICK HERE

[There were many Muslim candidates who lost by small margins too. Like in Azamgarh, which was then a Communist stronghold, CPI's Zainul Abedin Ahmad had come a close second to Congress' Algu Rai. In Madras (Tamil Nadu, now), Muslim candidates ended up runners up in Aruppakottai and Kozhikode (now in Kerala) and some other constituencies like Sankaranainarko or Berhampur in West Bengal]