Muslims constitute 13.4 per cent of India’s population. Jammu & Kashmir is the only Muslim majority state. Pockets of West Bengal, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Bihar have pretty high Muslim population. Forty-six of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies have more than 30 per cent Muslims. The community makes a decisive impact on the outcomes of about 110 seats. A mass swing in any direction is bound to dramatically alter India’s complex political arithmetic.
Find below some of the views expressed by Muslims that appeared in media recently:
” In the 2014 parliamentary elections, they are likely to vote for the best-placed candidate to defeat BJP nationally….For Muslims, communalism is a much bigger issue than corruption (and perhaps their prosperity, health or education) .”
“Muslims in UP will vote for whoever can defeat BJP candidates.” “We may be angry with SP but what option do we have? Muslims will have to choose between SP and BSP in most of UP.”
And the remarks of its leaders are equally difficult to digest for the secular India.
Imam Barkati, the Shahi Imam of the Tipu Sultan mosque in Kolkata, approves of the strong words Rahul Gandhi uses against Narendra Modi and the BJP and wants Mamata Banerjee to make sharper attacks on them too.
Senior Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind leader Mahmood Madani says, “In some places like Assam, Bengal etc they will vote for candidates, in other places like UP and Bihar, they may vote to defeat a particular party”.
Akeel Ahmad, a local from Bareilly, claimed the first choice of the Muslims would be a national party, since Lok Sabha elections are about government formation at the Centre. “But to defeat Modi, they may vote tactically and this would be decided only at the eleventh hour.
Aligarh Muslim University Teachers’ Association secretary Aftab Alam announced that the association will pass a resolution, dissuading voters in UP and Bihar from voting for “communal and fascist forces”.
Are these not divisive statements? And it has resulted in regional parties such as SP, BSP, TMC to mushroom and prosper on the plea of secularism rather more so by branding the only national alternative as fundamentalist. Is it possible to today to have a stable government in Delhi?
Who should decide the secular credential of a political party?
Tanweer Alam, a Delhi-based activist wrote very rightly: ‘India is secular not because Muslims want it to be so, but because this country has evolved over millennia in a way that religion and its practice have been left out of the domain of the state. Europe did not become secular to accommodate Jews, Muslims or Buddhists, but to protect people from sectarian strife within Christianity. US secularism has similar origins. India too is secular because of Hindus, not Muslims, Sikhs, Christians or Parsis.’
Recent surveys point to a massive swing in favour of Modi, the BJP and the NDA. It cuts across the urban-rural, caste and community divides. However, Muslims have not fallen in the line to the country-wide upsurge for a change in Delhi.
However, some voices raise hope.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio wondered if the BJP is called communal, how can Congress be different as it is also “giving undue protection to certain communities”.
Interestingly, the Congress has been visibly trying to woo Muslims at all cost. Just on the day, EC declared the schedule of General Election 2014, the UPA government published 4 full page status report on the status report on Justice Sachar Committee on the minority in all the national newspapers. I don’t know how many of the Muslims went through it.
And in next few days, a panel appointed by the UPA to review the implementation of recommendations made by the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee found that the conditions of Muslims had not changed perceptibly since 2006. Who stopped the government in implementing those measures? Is it not a cheating of the community?
Even the PDP — the main opposition party in Jammu & Kashmir — as well as Hurriyat and separatist leaders believe that BJP’s “anti-Muslim” prime ministerial nominee, Narendra Modi, is the best bet for Muslim-dominated Kashmir in the hope he can address both the internal and external dimensions of the region’s problem.
And the Supreme Court rapped the Mulayam government in Uttar Pradesh and the Central government for failing to ‘smell’ the Muzaffarnagar riots and take timely steps to prevent it from happening. Still Muslims in UP will not vote for UPA and the SP which are majorly banking on minority support in the 2014. Is it not illogical, unethical and, may be, antinational for the Muslims under the influence of their religious and political leaders to shun BJP even in 2014 election for Delhi?
Why should Muslims rally behind the candidate best positioned to defeat the BJP and vote for any party which hardly has performed when in power even at state level?
BJP is certainly not a party of Hindus. Why do Muslims brand BJP a communal party, if other minority communities do not do that?
“In Goa Assembly election, BJP had put up a large number of members of the Christian community. Most of the minority community voters of Goa voted for the BJP. Many of the ministers including the Deputy Chief Minister belong to the minority community.
Will there be change in this forthcoming election? All sane Indian hopes so and so do many Muslim youths of India. In the recently elections to the Rajasthan Assembly only four members of the minority community – two Sikhs and two Muslims were elected to the legislative assembly. All the four belong to the BJP.”
Muslims, particularly educated ones must join BJP in large number. Unless the winnable Muslims join BJP, how can they be expected to be its candidate? No party can resort to Harakiri by selecting any one from the community just for enhancing the number.
I wish many like MJ Akbar join BJP, and Muslim youths carefully think over what Akbar who has been a distinguished journalist and author said about Narendra Modi:
“There has never been, since independence, such intense scrutiny, or such absolute determination to trace guilt to a Chief Minister, as Modi faced from institutions loyal to the UPA government over two full terms.”
“We need a national recovery mission. Only someone who has delivered can offer a credible promise of leading such a critical mission.
Let the community leaders change their mind about BJP in the interest of the country that is their motherland. Only then, they can pass a verdict if BJP is communal and discriminates. In the interest for a stronger India moving to become superpower, it is essential.