Love of Urdu or love for Muslim votes?

By Md. Ali,,

New Delhi: Jis ahd-e-siyasat ne yeh zinda zabaan kuchli/Us ahd-e-siyasat ko marhoomo’n ka ghum kyun ho, Ghalib jise kahte hain Urdu hi ka shaer tha/Urdu pe sitam dha kar Ghalib pe karam kyun ho.

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These famous lines by late Sahir Ludhyanvi who read this poem titled as “jashn-e-Ghalib” in Government sponsored Ghalib Centenary (100th death anniversary) Mushaira way back in 1969, aptly describe the systematic and sustained political apathy of Urdu by the Indian political class since last many decades.

TCN Photo

The compulsion of politics can make politicians behave unusually, as it was seen in Lok Sabha on Thursday, August 5, 2010. Without even taking Speaker Meira Kumar’s permission, prominent leaders from all the political parties, clamored and almost fought with each other to speak and show their support for Urdu, on which the hypocritical stands of the state and central governments are well known.

This new found love of the Indian political class for Urdu was triggered by SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s demand to support Urdu newspapers by awarding them a fair share of government advertisement. Immediately after this, two Union ministers, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Farooq Abdullah and many other members raised their hands to speak and show their support for the language.

Surprisingly even BJP was not behind, with its senior leader Mr. Gopi Nath Munde and Shatrughan Sinha showing their support for the language, which has a very important role to play in the growth of Bollywood

A political gimmick

It doesn’t take much political knowledge to see why Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav is trying to raise issues typically associated with Muslims. Mr. Yadav has lately been in news for trying to attract Muslims votes back to his party’s fold. He recently apologized for making a political alliance with Kalyan Sing whom Muslims see as responsible for the Babri Masjid demolition.

Votes of Muslims in Utter Pradesh had a very important role to play in bringing Samajwadi Party to power in the state. But his joining hands with Kalyan Singh saw the minority votes going to Mayawati’s camp over a period of time.

Reintroduce Urdu in schools

“It’s just a political gimmick of the Indian political class which has orchestrated sustained decline of Urdu at various levels,” reacted Shahid Lateef, editor of Inquilab, a Mumbai based Urdu daily.

Hitting back at the ‘opportunist’ politicians, Mr. Lateef said, if the government wants to support Urdu, then first of all they should introduce Urdu in schools again, which is the basic step to give the language much needed push among the new generation.

Credits of a national language demanded

He further demanded from the state as well as central government to stop treating the language as a regional language and give it the credit of a national language.

“After Hindi, it is only Urdu which is spoken in several states of the country making a much more than a regional language, which is how the state and central governments have been treating it,” he added.

From a Prime Minister who knows Urdu, the language expects more than token gestures of support and half hearted measures, aimed more at gaining votes than giving the language a serious and sympathetic treatment.