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Time for muslims to end modi-bashing

By PREM CHANDRAN NOT VERY SURPRISINGLY, the cause of the Muslim community came up for special mention at the BJP’s .....




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Old 04-16-2017
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Thumbs up Time for muslims to end modi-bashing


By PREM CHANDRAN

NOT VERY SURPRISINGLY, the cause of the Muslim community came up for special mention at the BJP’s national executive meet in Bhubaneswar – and the mention came from none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Intervening in the discussions on the setting up of a Backward Classes commission, Modi took the microphone to say there is need for more inclusiveness in respect of the backward sections of the Muslim community. Despite Muslims’ antagonism to the BJP and Modi, the unassailable fact is that BJP governments are not in a mood to ignore Muslims -- who form 14.2 per cent of the national population.

The PM’s view was expressed while the national executive discussed the new bill that the Modi government has introduced in Parliament in the Budget session, to give constitutional status to the backward classes commission. The bill could not be passed as the Opposition used its strength in the Rajya Sabha to block the bill and instead had it referred to the Select Committee of the Parliament for a detailed discussion. The government’s idea was to disband the National Commission for Backward Classes that was set up in 1993 and replace it with a new commission, in ways that its recommendations will have more strength and constitutional validity. This was something that backward classes organisations had been demanding for the past three decades.

PM Modi’s stress on inclusion of backward sections among the Muslims is in keeping with his stated goal, “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas (With everyone, For Welfare of All.” Modi had also stated when he took over as PM that he will be guided solely by the Constitution of India. “My Gita (Hindu religious book that’s on equal footing with the Bible for Christians and Quran for Muslims) will be the Constitution of India.” However, Muslim community leaders refused to take note, and went on with their Modi-bashing agenda – as they are seemingly uncomfortable with a former RSS pracharak leading the country. (for columnists like Jawed Naqvi, it’s alright for Pakistan to be an Islamic state, but India should not think in terms of Hindutva!; Dawn/ Asian Age, April 12).

Their anger against Modi is also, for most part, in the backdrop of the 2002 Gujarat riots. Modi as chief minister of Gujarat had not done enough and looked the other way when the riots took place, resulting in the death of large numbers of people, is how Muslims see the scenario. Hindus too feel Modi as CM should have acted in stronger ways to put down the violence. Fact is that Gujarat had been having an iteration of Hindu-Muslim riots in the past decades. It hasn’t started with Modi; but, fact is, it ended with Modi! Fact is also that the prop for the Gujarat riots was the setting ablaze of some bogies of a train carrying Hindu “karsevaks” returning from Ayodhya after doing voluntary service for the building of a proposed Ram Temple there in February, 2002.

The Hindu-Muslim divide had worsened on the issue of the building of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya – the birth place of Lord Rama. Pro-RSS groups insist that the birthplace of Lord Ram was a spot where an ancient Moslem mosque (the Babri Masjid) got erected in year 1527. The mosque was too old and was not in use and existed only for its historical importance. It was named after Babar, the Muslim invader. A pro-RSS-BJP band of Hindutva followers had demolished the Babri Masjid (in Faizabad district), on December 6, 1992, leading to riots that reached upto Mumbai and killed many. BJP patriarch LK Advani and present water resources minister Uma Bharti were among those who were in the forefront of the Ayodhya Ram Janambhoomi (birthplace) (temple construction) movement. Cases in this respect are ongoing. The demolition took place when a Congress government headed by PV Narasimha Rao led the government at the Centre. Rao could have done more to prevent the demolition, but he thought “let this old stuff go, and let there be no more fight over it.”

Muslims have reason to feel hurt by the Babri demolition and the Gujarat riots. Minority sentiments added to their hurt, and all our hearts go out for them. They as minorities needed a helping hand from the majority community, individual to individual. However, there's realisation among sections of the Muslims too that what happened in Godhra was unacceptable as well. There are also another segment, sizeable number of Muslims, who felt this (Godhra) was the way for the community to fight back. There was also a stream of thought among Muslims (like MJ Akbar, at that time) that those community leaders (like Syed Shahabuddidn) who raised the heat over Babri Masjid had done a dis-service to the Muslims, as the centuries-old mosque could have been given away when Hindus insisted that it was the place of birth of Lord Ram, the lead figure in Epic Ramayana (Rama’s story). In the course of time, several Muslim community leaders derived vicarious pleasure from continuing with the anti-Modi and anti-BJP offensives, leading to a situation in which the BJP decided not to give a single ticket to any Muslim community member in the February-March polls to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly. “Anyway they are against us, and they do not vote for us. So what difference it makes to us,” a senior BJP leader had asked. The results proved that Muslims didn't matter for the BJP to win seats.

All the same, noticeably, Prime Minister Modi has not been following a communal agenda. Economic development is palpably at the centre of his scheme of things. Despite the show of open hatred and enmity from Muslim community leaders, Modi has been pursuing a pro-development agenda. Even as Gujarat CM, it was Modi who did good things for Muslims, like when he inducted the maximum number of Muslims to the state police force to maintain some kind of an equillibrium. If Muslim community leaders fail to see the positive side of Modi, it is a pity.

The selection of Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu monk and five-time parliamentarian, as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh raised fresh eyebrows last month (March, 2017). One of Yogi’s first acts was to close down all illegal abattoirs; and UP had one too many of them. Since Muslims were running abattoirs, this was seen as a move against the community. The express purpose of Yogi, however, was to streamline the sector and ensure that cows are not slaughtered anymore in the state. There was a spark of BJP-RSS ideology injected into it. Another of Yogi’s move – to launch a fund for marriage of girls from economically backward Muslim families – has won praise. It went to show that despite not giving any ticket to Muslims for the assembly polls, their interests will be taken care of by the BJP government. Note also the fact that Yogi made it a point to draw in a Muslim to his ministry, without anyone asking for it, and that is cricketer-turned politician Mohsin Raza.

The UP election results have shown Muslim offensives against BJP and Modi will not cut ice in electoral terms; rather, it works to the advantage of the BJP and Modi. This would predictably result in a Hindu consolidation in favour of BJP and Modi. Indians by and large are now convinced that Modi is the right mantra for India, for now. They have as much sense. A nation needs leadership. There are difficult times for India as well. Mischief-makers in Pakistan are out to play their dirty games on India in the name of Kashmir. Only a part of Kashmir is with India. The other (disputed) part is with Paksitan. There's nothing to hint that India, with its might, will cave into the demands of Pakistani mischief-makers or their agents in India, and part with the territory. The fights can only make the life of Kashmiris miserable and more miserable. They bore it for a quarter of a century now. What did Chechens achieve in Russia, or what did the LTTE achieve in Sri Lanka, other than losing hundreds of thousands of lives?

It’s time Muslims have a reassessment of the scenario. Rootless bluff-masters like Sitaram Yechuris and Rajas of the Leftist stream are fooling around with Muslim sentiments and backing wrong causes – like in the patently anti-national offensives in JNU and Hyderabad Central University – in the hope that they can don the mantle of minority-protectionism and win votes and support. Foolish men and foolish ideas still exist in the colour of red. They are game fishing in troubled waters, and are getting more and more isolated. Banking on such men for support can be of little help to Muslims under the present Indian conditions. They know as much, of course. It's time, instead, for the Muslim community leaders to reassess their blind anti-BJP and anti-Modi line. It’s time they see how the community’s interests can be promoted through positive ways. If Modi as prime minister and Yogi as chief minister are doing no harm, and are willing to work for an “all-inclusive” society, why fight with them, and why not cooperate with them instead? -- premcee@gmail.com (www.indiahereandnow.com)

Last edited by Premchandran; 04-17-2017 at 09:00 PM
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