For How Long Will Promises Remain Promises? : Muslims Must Seek Clarity From Political Parties

By making Narendra Modi a Prime Ministerial candidate, the Bharatiya Janata Party is engaged in winning over as many sections of society as possible. But curiously, the Bharatiya Janata Party itself is not being seen attempting to do this. All the efforts for Narendra Modi are being made by Narendra Modi himself. He has got his Government’s best minds engaged in his election and whatever is possible, he is searching for the help of such possibilities and giving out a call for them too in the electoral battle. But what can one do when in Narendra Modi’s face or Narendra Modi’s body language the people see a hard and egoistical personality? Narendra Modi smiles less in public and laughs more openly when alone.
Narendra Modi’s biggest worry at this time is the Muslims of the country. Traditionally, in the minds of Muslims there is the feeling that Narendra Modi or the Bharatiya Janata Party are enemies of the Muslims. Even before Narendra Modi Muslims on a large scale were never seen with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Bharatiya Janata Party, in the days of the Jan Sangh, and after the Jan Sangh when the Janata Party was formed and after that when the Bharatiya Janata Party came into existence after the Janata Party split – in other words in every period – has always kept some Muslim face or the other in front. But that Muslim face could never take the Muslims along. The Muslims saw him as an agent of the Bharatiya Janata Party among Muslims.

Muslim society should take its issues and questions and hold a dialogue with all the political parties in the country. Included in this are the Bharatiya Janata Party and its Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi. If Muslims keep their questions before Narendra Modi, keep their worries before him, and demand from him the announcement of special programmes for livelihood in their society, and an assurance that they will not be seen as having a secondary status in India, it will be a blow  to the traditional communalism and  secularism debate, but it will be in the interest of the Muslims.

But this time the BJP has got underway a campaign to win over Muslims. It has attempted with all its heart and soul to try and tempt a section of Muslim leaders and in that effort several Muslim leaders can be seen to be soft towards Narendra Modi. Several big Mulsim leaders have promised to support Narendra Modi, including Mahmood Madani and Yusuf Kachochwi. All these people first keep a condition that if Narendra Modi seeks an apology from Muslims then the Muslims can think about him. Even a large organisation of Muslims, Jamaat e Islami Hind, has mentioned this in many statements.
Two sections are emerging within the Muslims. One is of the old generation, which is above 50-60 years, and which sees the Bharatiya Janata Party as mentally unstable and which, after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and the Partition, has been against the interests of the Muslims in the country. In the riots that took place before Independence, the hand of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) could be seen. Even in all the riots that took place after Independence, the Muslims saw the hand of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. That is why Muslims have been viewing every organisation linked with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh with considerable suspicion. On the other hand, in the Bharatiya Janata Party even though linked to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, positive changes were seen. The old face which tried to win by creating polarisation between the Muslims and the Hindus in the days of the Jan Sangh is now sitting with a scheme to set up a dialogue with the Muslims with a new face and a new language. Right at the outset, senior Urdu journalist and former Rajya Sabha MP Shahid Siddiqui took only an interview of Modi and Muslims believed he was a Modi supporter amongst them. The Samajwadi Party disowned him. That same Muslim society now seems to be moving forward towards accepting Narendra Modi.
The question is whether politics and the distance should increase so much that a dialogue cannot be held. Muslim society should take its questions and hold a dialogue with all the political parties in the country. Included in this are the Bharatiya Janata Party and its Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi. If Muslims keep their questions before Narendra Modi, keep their worries before him, and demand from him the announcement of special programmes for livelihood in their society, and an assurance that they will not be seen as having a secondary status in India, it will be a blow to the traditional communalism and secularism debate, but it will be in the interest of the Muslims. In India, all the economically weaker sections are having to struggle to improve their position.
It is a matter of sorrow that amongst the Muslims there have been so many divisions politically that their strength seems to be lessening to a considerable extent. If you look at the number of major Muslim political parties, you will find that the number is there in name only — no one gives their vote to them. Perhaps in the interests of Muslims the declaration of the formation of these parties is correct, but these political parties are not being able to explain the issues of Muslims to non-Muslims, and because till the time non-Muslims do not vote for Muslims, until then the strength of the Muslims will appear to be weakening in a political form.
The second irony is that there is no such personality within the Muslims who can get them seated together and unite them on their basic issues and questions. Mutual doubts, distrust, envy and jealousy, etc. are not allowing the strength and power of the Muslims to ever develop. Therefore to believe that the Muslims will be able to gain something for themselves at the political level in the country does not appear possible at present. Instead, the situation is that in every election political parties make promises to get votes from the Muslims and afterwards do not fulfill those promises. Those people who make these promises to the Muslims, in the next elections they again make new promises and the Muslims vote for them again.
This time too, for the coming elections, the Congress is sitting with the assumption that it will get a large part of Muslim votes in its support. It is being generally believed in the country that this time Muslims will not vote for the Congress and the Congress strategists are saying that India is such a big country and Muslims are there everywhere, so after all who will the Muslims vote for ultimately? They have no other alternative other than the Congress.
The need is for every Muslim, every political organisation of the Muslims, their religious-political organizations to circulate their agendas between each and sit down and think about how they can form one agenda. There is a great need for this because they are a religious minority and a section who are victims of discrimination. And only then, whether it is the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal United, the Congress Party or the Bharatiya Janata Party, will the Muslims be able to get something for themselves. But at the time of elections, for a little bit of money heavyweight Muslim organisations and their leaders make appeals for different parties and this happens in every election.
As a result Muslims see themselves divided in any kind of way and this confusion does not allow Muslims to get organised, and that is why the section of common people among the Muslims does not listen to talk of leadership. The appeals are of one kind and the results that come in the elections are of another kind, but these are important elections. The Muslims should get organised once and demand their rights not only from the Congress, but also the BJP along with all other parties and keeping in front the issues and questions of their livelihood and education make clear cut demands and seek clear answers from all the political parties, including the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

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