The Gujarat elections are one sort of lesson for the Bharatiya Janata Party and another one for the Congress. The Bharatiya Janata Party does not learn anything from its own victory and the Congress does not learn anything from its defeat. There is one more class which does not learn a lesson, and that is our country’s Muslim community. I am perhaps using the wrong words. I should use the words Muslim organisation or Muslim leader instead of Muslim community.
In the Gujarat elections, the Muslims gave votes to Narendra Modi in large numbers. Narendra Modi’s candidates won in those constituencies too where the population of Muslims is 60 per cent, 50 per cent and 40 per cent. The Muslim leaders who went from Delhi repeatedly reminded the Muslims of Gujarat of just one thing : do not forget the riots of Gujarat and do not give votes to Narendra Modi who was responsible for those riots. The Muslims of Gujarat did listen to the words, but heard them from one ear and took them out from the other. What, after all, is the reason for this?
The reason is that no other personality has developed and emerged in Gujarat as a challenger against Narendra Modi. The Congress wants to fight the Bharatiya Janata Party and come to power, but the Congress has not done anything in Gujarat in the last ten years on which the people of Gujarat would have placed faith. In the last ten years, the Congress has neither ever held any meetings on the basic questions of Gujarat, nor did they include people or make a line-up of leadership among themselves. The common man of Gujarat felt that the Congress is not at all serious about winning the election in Gujarat and when no class is placing faith in the Congress then why should the Muslims do so.
The meaning of a ‘line-up in leadership’ is that for those people who are suffering there should be a line-up of people who would stand along with them, extend hands for their help and give support to them during times of struggle. The households of Muslim victims of the riots have not got any type of balm and help from the Congress leadership in the last ten years. In the last election under the Narendra Modi rule, which happened five years earlier, the Muslim leaders who went from Delhi tried to make the Muslims understand with verve and vigour, but the Muslims of Gujarat felt that they were speaking of instigating them and leaving them to die alone. In the same way in this election too the leaders of Muslim organisations tried to teach them the same lesson and once again the Muslims of Gujarat felt they have come to incite them and then to leave them to die alone. So the Muslims listened neither to the words of the Congress nor of their leaders. The Congress leadership does not want to understand at all that the result, after remaining silent for the past five years, is the same that has been repeated this time too in Gujarat and the Muslim leaders never understand how costly it can be to show their faces only at the time of elections in a State like Gujarat. The Muslims did not listen to the words of the Muslim leaders. It is a different thing that many hundred crores were spent during elections, one part of which must have surely gone to the Muslim leaders. That is why, the things which were being seen in Gujarat by normal journalists like us from the very beginning were not understood by the sensible, great and learned Muslim leaders or Ulemas. On the contrary, the Muslim organisations tried to generate a ‘wind’ that the BJP has to be defeated at any cost and the Congress is fighting for a win here. Perhaps this ‘wind’ generation was the result of money they had received for the elections, but the Muslims of Gujarat were looking at what is going to happen in Gujarat. So they took a decision different from that of the advice of the leaders. In their entire drill, if the Muslims organisations did any harm to anybody then it was only and solely to the Muslims, because the Muslims cannot now believe quickly in any leader who goes from northern India.
It may be the religious organisations of the Muslims, it may be the social organisations or the political organisations, no one raised this question in an effective manner : why did the Congress not give tickets to Muslims for the Legislative Assembly Elections? Was it that these organisations did not have names of good candidates in Gujarat with them which they could send to the Congress as a form of advice? This was the biggest failure of the Congress – that it wanted to take the votes of the Muslims, but did not want to give them the representation.
Muslims have remained in the country as ‘becharas’ ( helpless or hapless ). All the political parties have, from time to time, made a fool of them beyond measure and in that game the Muslim organisations also included themselves. It may be the religious organisations of the Muslims, it may be the social organisations or the political organisations, no one raised this question in an effective manner : why did the Congress not give tickets to Muslims for the Legislative Assembly? Was it that these organisations did not have names of good candidates in Gujarat with them which they could send to the Congress as a form of advice ? This was the biggest failure of the Congress — that it wanted to take the votes of the Muslims, but did not want to give them the representation. Ahmed Patel is one of the most powerful leaders of the Congress. He himself hails from Gujarat. Almost all the Muslim leaders can reach him and have access to him. Then why, after they knew no Muslims would be given a Congress ticket, did Muslim leaders or representatives of the Muslim organisations continuously keep on meeting Ahmed Patel? And if Ahmed Patel had told them about not giving tickets to Muslim candidates, then due to what greed did they go to Ahmed Patel and why they did not oppose Ahmed Patel? This was possibly the reason that these leaders could not oppose Narendra Modi, who did not field even a single Muslim candidate in the election. There is no difference
between not giving a single ticket and giving only 4 tickets.
The Muslims of Gujarat also understood that the Congress only wants to take votes from them by holding before them the ‘fear of Narendra Modi’. The biggest proof of this is that during the Uttar Pradesh elections, the issue of nine per cent reservation to Muslims was raised by a Minister with support from the Congress, but this time they remained completely silent during the Gujarat elections. We had said during the time of the Uttar Pradesh election that if the Congress really wants to give nine per cent reservation to the Muslims then it should be implemented immediately in the Congress ruled States. The Congress did not do this and proved our suspicions correct that it just wants to make a fool of the Muslims. Now the Congress should be prepared that in the coming elections, the Muslim community may not give them votes in large numbers. The Congress is responsible for pushing Muslims towards the BJP, which has not fulfilled any promises made to the Muslims. Nobody solved their questions like employment, education and security. The Muslim organisations too never played a decisive role in solving them.
Then what does it mean? Should this be interpreted to mean that the Muslims are going to start taking their decisions in a new manner in the changed circumstances or the Muslims would consider the Gujarat election as a big lapse and might start to think in a fresh manner when it comes to the country level ? I feel that even though the Muslim organisations may keep on opposing the Bharatiya Janata Party blindly, if they do not raise the questions of the life of Muslims before the Congress in an effective manner or do not compel the Congress to take decisions in favour of the Muslims on the questions of Muslims then the Muslim organisations should be prepared to face the danger of becoming ineffective in political terms. Muslims will give a reply to this negligence and lapse from them by taking decisions as in Gujarat and will make a new start in politics. This does not mean that Muslims will give votes to the BJP in other places also, but it should be interpreted to mean that they will give their votes to those parties which do not have a relationship with the Congress. One more thing has gone in favour of Modi : after the 2002 riots in Gujarat, no other communal riot has taken place till now. He might have threatened the Muslims or could have satisfied them too, but only one result has emerged : that Muslims have moved with him, taken a step towards accepting the Modi model of development run by him. I wish Congress and Muslim organisations could have learnt a lesson from the elections of Gujarat.