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Minorityism of the majority rule

By Kashif-ul-Huda, TwoCircles.net

A new regime is in town and there is a rush to pledge allegiance to the new power. The power brokers that reside in Delhi (and there are many of them there) need to make peace with the new power centres or be forced to close their shop, so they decided to sing paens to the new King of Delhi.

In past few days statements are floating from Muslim leaders and organizations ranging from telling Muslims not to fear the new regime to wishing a long life to the new PM to the nephew-faction of the oldest Muslim organization deciding to engage with Modi-led government.

But these are the outsiders who spent last few years bitterly opposed to Modi. They are just trying to be on the good side of the government. We have to look up the statements of the Muslims who can be considered insiders to understand what will be the fate of the Muslims in this new regime.

Najma Heptulla is a political nobody who spent a lifetime in Congress as one of the several Muslim faces and amply rewarded for it by not only being a Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha for twenty-four long years but also being Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha for sixteen of those years.

In 2004, she decided to join BJP and again ended up in Rajya Sabha but now on opposition benches. She was also set up as BJP’s candidate for Vice President in 2007 elections which she lost miserably. Her 10-long years with BJP was being rewarded by being made a Cabinet Minister in Modi’s government.

At a Swearing-in Ceremony, at Rashtrapati   Bhavan, in New Delhi on May 26, 2014. (Courtesy: PIB)

She is the only Muslim in 46-member ministry of Modi’s government. She was made Minister of Minority Affairs and took oath of office on Monday promising to work “in accordance with the Constitution and the law.” But her very first statement as the new minister was against the Constitution. In talking to media after becoming the minister, she stated that Muslims are too large in number to call themselves a minority.

Whether Muslims should be called minority or not can be a topic of media debate or academic seminar but being a minority is a designation given to Muslims by the Indian Constitution. Article 30 of the Constitution recognizes religion or language as basis for calling a group a minority.

Not only this, the National Commission for Minorities Act 1992 has the Central Government notified groups to be considered as minority. Therefore on Oct 23rd, 1993 government notified Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Parsis as minorities. Being designated a minority provides certain rights e.g. right to establish and administer education institutions. On January 20, 2014 Jains were added to the list of minorities.

Najma Heptulla comment shows that either she is ignorant of the issue or deliberately trying to confuse everyone. This is a known Sangh agenda to remove all signs of Islam & Muslims from India. Removing the minority designation will take away their rights to establish education institutions where they can teach their religion or culture to their children. Heptulla is paying back for her elevation as the minister by parroting the official Parivar line on this topic.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs was established in 2006 by the UPA government over the opposition of the BJP. Performance of ministry has remained lackluster as it has found its hands tied with heavy dependence of local administrations in getting any work done. Over the years this ministry which has seen three ministers in the last eight years has been reduced to a ministry of scholarship for minority students. Even that was not implemented by Modi’s government in Gujarat. This is not merely a refusal to recognize Muslims and their problems but also to marginalize them by refusal to implement schemes that have shown to be ineffective. While the previous government cared for Muslim on paper the new regime wants even those papers filed away in government archive never to be discovered.

Heptulla, by giving the statement that Muslims are too many to be called minority and her ministry will rather focus on Parsis because they are a “miniscule minority” is telling us that policy of Modi government in Gujarat is going to continue in Delhi as well, it may take time to reach to that level of marginalization and may not be that openly but that’s where we are headed.

In the same interaction she also denied that Muslims should or can get reservation. She said reservation was as not a “solution” but an “escape route.” One wonders why effectiveness of reservation for social upliftment comes into question only when there is a debate about extending its provision to Muslims too. Reservation is already being given to Dalits, Tribals and many OBC Communities. If the reservation is really not a solution then why doesn’t BJP come out with a plan to phase it out for everyone? Why raise this issue only when there is a demand to include Muslims in its provisions?

“We believe in seeking out a solution through constitutional framework as it does not allow reservation on the basis of religion. We would like to work so that everybody gets a level playing ground,” said Heptualla forgetting that it is a 1950 Presidential Order that discriminates on the basis of religion. The order prevents non-Hindu dalits from benefitting from provisions of reservations given to Scheduled Castes. Later the discriminatory order was amended to include Sikhs in 1956, and Buddhists in 1990. Christians and Muslims dalits continue to face discrimination under this unconstitutional order.

Najma Heptulla was chosen to be inducted in the Modi ministry and made Minister of Minority Affairs because of her Muslim name. She was chosen over Shahnawaz Hussain (who unfortunately lost election inspite of a Modi wave in his state) and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (who is also loyal but considered politically a bit heavier than Heptulla) to represent the marginalization of Muslims in the new government.

The marginalized minority minister of the majority government picked up the signal and therefore she wants to make sure that Muslims became ignored by the ministry that was setup to help minorities.

May be Muslims will become focus of the government when they become a “miniscule minority” like Parsis, a Sangh Parivar dream.


May 29: Karnataka State Minorities Educational Institute Management Federation has sent a legal notice to Najma Heptulla.

The notice says that as per Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India , the Constitutional Rights of Muslims are guaranteed. “And yourself having sworn to oath of office and allegiance to the Constitution of India on being appointed as a Union Minister on 26-05-2014 (you) should not have issued such a statement. Your statement is directly in conflict with the Constitution of India.”
The notice seeks a clarification forthwith “by withdrawing your statement that Muslims are not minorities,” and warns that the federation will file a complaint before the President for her violation of oath of office.
— Bangalore Mirror.