By Asghar Ali Engineer
Recently BJP President Shri Nitin Gadkari said, in the BJP Executive Committee meeting in Mumbai that we should try to woo minorities to win forthcoming 2014 General Elections. He gave example of Goa that we wooed the Christian minority there and won the Goa election. We, therefore, should try to woo Muslims too, in the country, to win 2014 General Elections.
Mr. Gadkari, who is a RSS appointee as President of BJP should know the difference between winning Goa, a small Union Territory election and the General Elections in India as a whole. Also, Goa has some specific problems whereas India as a whole with 15% Muslim population is very different proposition. The two are far from comparable. Also, Goan Christians’ attitude towards BJP is not the same as Muslim attitude towards BJP. And BJP’s sins against Christians in Goa are not the same as BJP’s sins against Muslims in different parts of India.
In 2014 BJP is desperate to come to power. In last General Elections BJP got 19% votes and the Congress got 27% and the Congress formed UPA II Government with the help of its allies. Thus between Congress and BJP there was difference of 8% votes and BJP is desperate to make up this difference and if it can get a section of Muslim vote it can make some difference.
BJP’ mathematics unfortunately depends again on communal concept. It thinks Muslims and Hindus are homogenous communities and they vote on communal considerations and not on the basis of their regional, linguistic and class interests as it happens in a democracy. It incited hatred against Muslims throughout post-independence India on the assumption that it could polarize voters into Hindus and Muslims and Hindus will vote for the BJP and it will come to power. However, it never happened and BJP remained outside the charming circle.
It then merged with the Janta Party under the leadership of Jayprakash Narayan and took a vow for Gnadhian secularism and socialism and vowed never to resort to communal politics. However, under dual membership controversy its members in Janata Party refused to resign from RSS and ultimately Janta Party Government under Morarji Desai leadership fell and BJP once again resorted to communal politics with vengeance.
BJP’s 2014 strategy is to woo Muslim voters.
It raised the issue of Ram Jananmbhoomi-Babri Masjid controversy during late eighties and polarized Indian population along communal lines as never before. Its vow not to resort to communal politics was thoroughly exposed. It was nothing but sheer opportunism. Its secularism was thus very short lived. There was no genuine change of heart or in other words its decision was not based on inner conviction but merely on political tactics.
The BJP never misses any chance to attack any scheme or project which can benefit Muslims even remotely. It has been opposing implementation of Sacchar Committee scheme under its well-known theory of “appeasement of Muslims” and year after year Narendra Modi Government has been refusing to utilize scholarship amount sent by the Central Government for Muslim children under the pretext that his Government does not believe in any ‘religious discrimination’ in dispensing scholarship amount.
Also, the BJP Governments in M.P. and Karnataka have passed stringent laws against cow slaughter which is directed mainly against Muslims and police will have one more weapon to harass them. I am not saying that Muslims should eat beef but anyway all cannot be compulsorily stopped from doing so and even if they do not eat the police will harass them. The law is very stringent and even dalits who too, eat beef, are opposing it and in Hyderabad University these dalit students even organized a food festival and ate beef in the University Campus.
The M.P. Government also has passed such law but also has been introducing Hindu rituals in schools like Surya namaskar and others and hardly cares for any religious sensitivity of minorities. Thus wherever it comes to power it imposes Hindu rituals over other religious minorities. Not that there is anything wrong with Hindu rituals but question is of others religious sensibilities and of imposition against will.
Also, the Sangh Parivar has no love for democracy. In Gujarat Hitler has been glorifies in textbooks. In Rajasthan when BJP was in power in class XI text book of social science, Fascism was glorified and it was stated that fascism suits India as a fascist leader can take right decision at right time. It is utterly shocking but true. I myself drew Mr. Arjun Singh, the then Human Resources Minister’s attention to it and he could not believe that such a thing has been included in the Rajasthan text book.
Fascism and Nazism are strongly anti-minorities and highly intolerant of religious pluralism. Such text books are anti-democratic and go totally against our own cultural traditions of pluralism and tolerance. It is anti-constitutional too. Also, the Sangh Parivar has been inciting violence against Muslims since the day one of independent India. It has accused Muslims of being not loyal to India and being pro-Pakistan. It treats Indian Muslims from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari and label such accusations the whole community which is grossly untrue.
After the loss of property in Gujarat 2002, Bohras have come closer to Modi.
With horrible massacres like Gujarat in 2002 Narendra Modi refused to take any responsibility, let alone express any regret and apologies to Muslims for what happened with them in that state. He, on the other hand, expects Muslims to forget and go ahead. Instead of apologizing he pretended to promote what Modi calls sadbhavna (communal harmony) and he sat on one-day fasts in several districts of Gujarat. Muslims of Gujarat refused to fall for his pretensions and despite all efforts they did not take part in his sadbhvna rallies except the Bohra Muslims whose head Syedna Muhammad Burhanuddin is placating Modi for his personal vested interests (The Syedna has huge income from various mausoleums and waqf properties in Gujarat which goes unaccounted).
Now Narendra Modi’s rival Mr. Sanjay Joshi is accusing him of organizing communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 to retain his chair. Mr. Joshi’s supporters put up a poster which said “I am an RSS member, I don’t sell purchase land, I don’t do genocide for power, I don’t change my color for power (reference to sadbhavna rallies)….The supporters of Modi all were wearing Sanjay Joshi mask on their faces as Narendra Modi’s followers did (wearing Narendra Modi masks) on the eve of last Gujarat assembly elections.
Keshubhai Patel, the former Chief Minister has also come out and attacking Narendra Modi and is appealing to his Patel biradari to rise against Modi and defeat him in coming assembly elections. This is the condition of BJP which one claimed while the Congress is a party with differences, BJP is the party with difference. Now the shoe is on the other foot. It is the BJP which is a party with differences. It is as corrupt, if not more, as Congress. It supports Anna to defeat ‘corrupt Congress’ and Anna and his team obliges BJP by targeting only the Congress and keeping absolutely mum about corruption in BJP.
If BJP is desirous of Muslim supports it has to first of all apologize to Muslims and the nation for demolition of Babri Masjid and allow Babri Masjid to be reconstructed at the plot where it once stood. Also it should compel Narendra Modi to apologize to Muslims for organizing their genocide in Gujarat in 2002. Also the BJP should convince the nation and Muslims that it would not resort to communalism and communal violence and would not betray the nation this time round in any case.
This also cannot wash away BJP’s sins but at least pave way for reconciliation and we altogether – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, tribals and all others can raise our Indian nation and make it peaceful and prosperous. It should also apologize to Christians for organizing riots in Kndhamal district, Orissa Then only we can become a true nation without any distinction of religion, caste and creed.
The minorities then will surely give BJP a chance to come to power and prove its worth and that unlike in seventies it would not betray its promise. And if BJP really apologizes the minorities would magnanimously forgive and forget all that happened in the past and go ahead. This is what happened in South Africa and Satya is very much part of our Indian culture and forgiveness too is our precious heritage. If at all BJP is proud of our rich cultural heritage it should not mind following this course.
A superficial approach like promising Muslims to salvage their waqf properties as suggested by Shri Nitin Gadkari will not attract Muslims to the BJP fold. For more than 60 years they have suffered at the hands of BJP and its politics of communalism. Only salvaging waqf properties is not going to do the trick. And let BJP leaders be also reassured that the Congress will also be not be able to use fear of BJP to get Muslim votes. Its communalism will also be exposed and it will also have to work hard to woo Muslims. It would then be real competition between two great parties to bring about great unity and solidarity between all people of India – the ultimate goal of our politics. Long live our nation and our unity!
Asghar Ali Engineer is Mumbai-based community activist and scholar.