UP Electoral Verdict and the Road Ahead For Muslims

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BJP victory

In the charged atmosphere, when the Muslims are turning out to be the new untouchables, only good education and skills will serve as their savior.  Unless the Muslims empower themselves, they will not find a place in the society which is being made to turn its face away from them. They will have to win over the hearts of other communities by displaying unblemished character and good deeds

SAFI H JANNATY | Caravan Daily

[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]es, the results of the recently concluded elections for five Indian State Legislative Assemblies which were touted as mid-term elections and referendum on Prime Minister Modi certainly point to the right wing party returning to power in 2019 with a thumping majority and without the need of support from other regional parties.

The trend or the signs that emerged from elections are indeed worrisome for those who have faith and belief in secularism.  Of course, parties lose and win in elections and outcomes do not always raise alarm or cause one to spend sleepless nights.  The anti-incumbency factor usually plays a significant role in making parties circumspect and it augurs well for democracy to nurture and  flourish. But, when a party comes to power and starts strengthening its voter base and mass appeal purely by means of polarization or what Mr. Saeed Haider had earlier termed ‘reverse polarization’, such situation or trend creates a sense of insecurity and uncertainty. Unfortunately, the polarization has reached to an extent now that the vote for the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Modi was termed as vote against Muslim.

The post mortem of the results reflect that in many places where Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bhahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had fielded Muslim candidates, the loyalists of those parties sided with the BJP instead to demonstrate their unwillingness to have a Muslim legislator.  The belligerence of Modi and his ilk can be gauged from the fact that BJP did not field any Muslim candidate anywhere. In essence, they wanted to demonstrate that they just do not need Muslim electorate and can come to power without them or rather in spite of them.

The 20 percent Muslim population in Uttar Pradesh (UP) did not matter to them and come 2019, they would do the same and show that the 13-14 percent populace in the nation won’t affect them in the least.  After the colossal loss by BSP, which had fielded the maximum number of Muslim candidates, other parties will reconsider whether or not to risk having Muslim on their side or fielding Muslim candidates.   A close analysis of the polls would also debunk the theory of splitting of Muslim vote or the split helping BJP. The split which was evident in a few constituencies where the sum of SP and BSP votes was higher than the vote obtained by the BJP’s winning candidates, it would have just stemmed the huge landslide to some extent.

Muslims form nearly 20 percent or 40 million in the state's 200 million plus population.
Muslims form nearly 20 percent or 40 million in the state’s 200 million plus population.

The 20 percent Muslim population in Uttar Pradesh (UP) did not matter to them and come 2019, they would do the same and show that the 13-14 percent populace in the nation won’t affect them in the least.  After the colossal loss by BSP, which had fielded the maximum number of Muslim candidates, other parties will reconsider whether or not to risk having Muslim on their side or fielding Muslim candidates.   A close analysis of the polls would also debunk the theory of splitting of Muslim vote or the split helping BJP. The split which was evident in a few constituencies where the sum of SP and BSP votes was higher than the vote obtained by the BJP’s winning candidates, it would have just stemmed the huge landslide to some extent.

Not being politically relevant, which the Muslims have now become in UP and other States is one thing; and  the fear of losing out in other spheres of life is totally another. These are the actual concerns and fears.  The isolation could stretch from minorities not able to buy or rent properties in certain localities or not getting admission in schools and colleges to them not finding employment or setting up businesses in the desired sectors.

As Modi has asserted after the victory that the historical win is a result of hard work of previous years, the Sangh Parivar has been working hard for over two decades to create a divide between the Hindu and Muslims using different means and strategies. First, they captured the media which helped them in a big way to promote their cause by silencing others.  Secondly, they roped in big corporate houses which guaranteed continued access to money.  Then, they brought and promoted antagonists like Tarek Fatah and Taslima Nasreen to poison the minds of non-Muslim people by continuously talking about the excesses of Muslim rulers and leaders before the arrival of British in India.  Not only, they used nationalism rhetoric and aligned national slogans with Hindutva, they succeeded in literally making patriotism synonymous with praise for Modi and the party.

Ironically not just the leaders of  BJP have crowned Modi as the new avatar or savior, people like P. Chidambaram and Nitish Kumar who were staunch critics of BJP too endorsed that mantle.  It was no mean achievement by the party which was squirming in the fringes until the Eighties. If the demolition of Babri Mosque had emboldened the party, the Gujarat riots helped them in polarizing the communities.  Modi was not content with the success in Gujarat, he managed to have that success reverberate in the party to dismantle the old guard. Again, the party workers who were mostly associated in one way or other with the Hindutva campaign paved his way up the ladder. He is depending now on youth in the party to script more success.

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Not just the memory of the media is short, but, it also conveniently forgets what does not matter to it or deliberately decimates history.  Now, no one will question Modi’s silence or indifference as chief minister in having more than 2000 innocent Muslims butchered in Gujrat in  2002.  That tragedy also will have to be gulped down the throat with pain as none would entertain shedding tears over it.

In the charged atmosphere, when the Muslims are turning out to be the new untouchables, only good education and skills will serve as their savior.  Unless the Muslims empower themselves, they will not find a place in the society which is being made to turn its face away from them. They will have to win over the hearts of other communities by displaying unblemished character and good deeds.

Extending a  helping hand to those who are downtrodden in other communities by providing them access to educational institutions and health care centers run and managed by them will help them immensely in removing hatred and ill thoughts.  Religious outbursts will be counter-productive and the clergy or ulema be better excluded or sidelined from the political and education scene.  Any explicit or implicit attack on rites and rituals of others will further widen the barrier and harbor hatred. Of course, no evil deed can ever be countered or made even by another devilish act and there is absolutely no place for any revengeful act against any one. The grave folly of violent reprisals against the Babri Masjid demolition should never be repeated.

The false stigma of being anti-national or non- patriotic is one more thing that the Muslim communities  will  to remove from their sleeves.  Zero tolerance towards terrorism and terrorist activities will have to be voiced vociferously without mincing any word or showing any sympathy to people supporting terrorism or terror outfits on the other side of the border.  Similarly, there should be no place for radical thoughts nor any defense or excuses be offered for people turning fundamentalists or extremists.

The need of the hour is wisdom and the right-minded people joining hands to take a lead in not only changing the mindset of the Muslim but also in removing the misgivings and misunderstanding of the others about the community.

 

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