After Maulana Hifzur Rahman Seoharwi and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
both India’s stalwart freedom fighters who represented Muslims in
the legislature as members of parliament, mainstream ulama were
completely out of the elected house in India for the last 60 years.
This time around a fresh but solid beginning is made by two Deoband
The entry of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Qasmi with a landslide victory
over his Congress rival Anwar Hussain from Dhubri Lok Sabha
constituency of Assam and Maulana Asrarul Haq Qasmi from Kishanganj
constituency of Bihar after winning against his RJD rival, former
central minister Muhammad Taslimuddin, can be marked as the
beginning of a new chapter in the electoral politics of India.
Prominent Muslim scholar and columnist Maulana Asrarul Haq Qasmi won
the Kishanganj Lok Sabha seat with a margin of 81,125 votes
defeating RJD’s senior leader Taslimuddin and JDU candidate Syed
The founder president of Delhi-based All India Talimi Wa Milli
Foundation, Maulana Qasmi belongs to Kishanganj and has been active
in the educational uplift of the people of the area, which records
one of the lowest female literacy rates in India. It was in this
perspective that he set up Milli Girls School about 7 years ago.
Maulana Qasmi described his victory as the victory of the people of
Kishanganj and said he would work for them and get them what they
Opening his account in India’s Parliament the Assam United
Democratic Front president Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Qasmi has won
Dhubri Lok Sabha seat by one lakh eighty four thousand votes.
The AUDF was formed months before the 2006 assembly elections in
Assam and won 10 assembly seats held that year, with 9.07 per cent
vote share in the state. Later in the rural elections in 2008 the
AUDF increased its vote share to 14.54 per cent with 48 ZP seats. In
this Lok Sabha election the party has performed remarkably well in
all 9 constituencies it contested out of total 14 Parliamentary
Constituencies (PCs) in the state and received 17.10 per cent vote
share out of total votes polled. AUDF is now the third major party,
ahead of Assam Gano Parishad (AGP) and behind two national parties
Congress and BJP which received 33.92 and 17.22 per cent votes
respectively in Assam. The AUDF made an impressive first showing by
winning one seat, standing second in two and scoring third place in
6 parliamentary constituencies out of total 9 it contested.
One more significant outcome of this election for Muslim Indians
should be that barring Badruddin Ajmal-led AUDF and the Muslim
League of Kerala, the fate of almost a dozen-odd Muslim outfits in
this election has been sealed with none able to even make a mark.
Interestingly, half of these parties were born just before the
announcement of the 2009 polls, hoping to ride on the community’s
sympathy factor. This election is a clear indicator to the positive
argument that no party or political entity can go nationally long
with any exclusive community driven agenda – be it BJP, Modi, Shiv
Sena or any Muslim led party. Unless it has inclusive programmes for
all communities and the nation any long term success will remain a
cherished dream like that of former PM in-waiting Mr. LK Advani.
Besides the Muslim League in Kerala and AUDF in Assam, the only
exception has been that of Asaduddin Owaisi of Majilis Ittihadul
Muslimin (MIM) from Andhra Pradesh. Owaisi managed to protect his
traditional family seat of Hyderabad from the onslaught of the
Though the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) fared much
better than what was expected by all opinion and exit polls in this
Lok Sabha polls, the ruling party suffered a setback in Assam as the
total seats of the party have come down from nine in the 2004 polls
to seven this time.
The Congress failed to retain four seats— Guwahati, Silchar, Dhubri
and Tezpur only because of the AUDF factor and it also could not
regained Nogoan and Mangaldoi from BJP owing to the major vote share
of AUDF in both the constituencies.
The AUDF could heavily erode the traditional vote bank of the
Congress in Assam which is a strong signal to the national party.
And for marginalized people in Assam especially Muslims and tea
garden labours it is very positive to find a solid and secular
alternative to the Congress apathy towards minority interests in the
It is good time for the national party to read the writing on the
walls. Muslims in particular are no longer a mere vote bank with the
secular name tag alone. Nitish Kumar did well in this election for
his inclusive good work.
In the 15th Lok Sabha election Muslims have voted strategically for
Congress led UPA alliance in UP, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra
Pradesh and Kerala. This mature swing cannot be taken for granted
like ‘coming back home of Muslim’ this time without proportionate
representation and developmental measures for Muslims.
(M. Burhanuddin Qasmi is editor of Eastern Crescent and director of
the Mumbai based Markazul Ma'arif Education and Research Centre. He
can be contacted at