The NDA government on Tuesday released the data on population by religious communities from Census 2011 which showed the proportion of Muslims to the total population is growing marginally faster than that of other religions.
Critics questioned the timing of the release of the data just weeks ahead of polls in Bihar, where Muslims can influence the outcome in about 50 of the 243 assembly constituencies.
According to an official statement, the proportion of Hindus in the population has declined by 0.7 percentage point, Sikhs by 0.2 percentage points and Buddhists by 0.1 percentage points during 2001-2011.
The proportion of Muslim population to the total population of 121.09 crore increased by 0.8 percentage points. There has been no significant change in the proportion of Christians and Jains.
This is the first time that the proportion of the Hindu population has fallen below the 80% mark.
The data were released by sex and residence up to sub-districts and towns.
Of the total population in 2011, the number of Hindus was 96.63 crores (79.8%); Muslims 17.22 crores (14.2%); Christians 2.78 crores (2.3%); Sikhs 2.08 crores (1.7%); Buddhists 0.84 crores (0.7%); Jains 0.45 crores (0.4%), Other Religions and Persuasions (ORP) 0.79 crores (0.7%) and Religion Not Stated category 0.29 crores (0.2%). The growth rate of population during 2001-2011 was 17.7%.
The growth rate of population of the different religious communities in the same period was: 16.8% for Hindus; 24.6% for Muslims; 15.5% for Christians; 8.4% for Sikhs; 6.1% for Buddhists and 5.4% for Jains.