Muslims in Madhya Pradesh are feeling ignored, as even political parties opposing BJP also resort to soft Hindutva to get votes.
Ghazanfar Abbas | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI/BHOPAL— Muslims in Madhya Pradesh had already lost hope of getting any tickets to contest the Assembly elections on behalf of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, with the approaching elections, they were taken by surprise when even the Indian National Congress (INC) also refrained from pitching Muslim candidates. The action many believe is an aftereffect of the “communal polarisation by BJP” which has compelled the Congress to play the “soft Hindutva card”.
Miffed with both the leading political parties, the community now feels that they are being taken for granted by the grand old party, as they out of compulsion would be voting for the Congress, by default.
Speaking to Caravan Daily, Masood Ahmed Khan, State secretary, Coordination Committee of Indian Muslims and social Activist Haji Haroon expressed their discomfort with the political stand of the Congress. They collectively said, “Rahul Gandhi is also playing the soft Hindutva politics. This is due to the communal polarization created by the state’s BJP government headed by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Sadly enough, no other political party is in a strong position to take on BJP in the state.”
Haroon explained, “The main problem with the community is that Muslims lack leadership, not just in Madhya Pradesh but across India. This is primarily because Muslim organizations completely detached themselves from Muslims. We have no hope in BJP to give tickets to Muslim candidates here. Shivraj Singh Chouhan has implemented a Gujarat-like system here. Gita path, Vande Mataram, Surya Namaskar and Saraswati Vandana are compulsory in schools for our (Muslim) children. And the so-called secular parties have only used Muslims. Rahul Gandhi is also playing Soft Hindutva politics here. Other parties have no existence here.” He paused and then said with utter dismay, “So, we Muslims of Madhya Pradesh have no other option than opting for the better candidate.”
Adding to that Masood Ahmed said, “Muslim candidates could have been fielded by the Congress, but due to polarized environment of the state, they have preferred to not take any risk.”
Both Parties Ignored Muslims
For the Madhya Pradesh Assembly election, which is scheduled on November 28, political parties will be contesting on 230 seats. However, in their lists of 177 candidates by BJP and 155 by Congress, not a single seat has been given to a Muslim by the BJP, while Congress has announced only two Muslim names, one each from Burhanpur and Bhopal Uttar constituencies.
Haroon said, “Every party submits an oath to the election commission to be secular. So, every party should field candidates from every community. We had even approached several political parties to do the needful, but none have taken any action, despite there being no certainty with regards to the candidates winning elections.”
He maintained that BJP and Congress both have ignored Muslims and their issues. “The present state government has never paid any attention on the issues of Muslims. No committee was constituted in Urdu Academy and Waqf board for years. There is no chairman in Haj committee. The Madrasa board also doesn’t have the required number of employees,” he pointed out.
Hard versus Soft Hindutva
Most believe that the Congress has been reducing the number of seats for Muslims since the last elections. However, the party, the community maintains, could have placed Muslims on at least 20 seats including Satna, Bhatoni, Jabalpur (Cantt. And Pashchim), Satna, Bhatoni, Khandwa, Ratlam, Ujjain, Khandwa simply based on the community’s good population in these pockets. As per 2011 census Muslims constitute about 6.57 per cent of the state’s total population.
“Will some non-Muslim candidates of Congress not lose the seats?” Haroon asked.
“Muslims are compelled to vote to Congress as there is no other political option. This is a game of hard and soft Hindutva,” he added.
Interestingly, besides BJP and Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samajwadi Party have also released a list of 6 and 51 candidates respectively for the upcoming polls, but both have also chosen to play it safe in Madhya Pradesh.