RIGHT ANGLE – Rahul Gandhi: Friend or Foe of Indian Muslims?
It has now become a routine affair that whenever Congress leader Rahul Gandhi undertakes sponsored foreign tours to address the universities and think-tanks, he, in his ugly display of hatred for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, belittles India’s proud record in religious tolerance and says that Muslims have become a persecuted community in the country.
No wonder why Rahul Gandhi is a hero of the anti-India voices and institutions of the West, which have traditionally resisted the rise of India as one of the power centres of the world, its culture and its eternal Sanatana Dharma that treats all the religions as equal and advocates peaceful coexistence.
I have argued many a time that all those who call themselves liberals and seculars in India are actually the fascists and biggest communal-minded persons. They are experts in converting sheer lies to “the truth” and in over-exaggerating “negativities” to the extent of projecting India as a country that is literally burning now. For them, before 2014, the year Modi became the Prime Minister, only milk and honey were overflowing in the country and that there were no communal tensions whatsoever.
However, nothing is farther from the truth. Let us see the way “truth” has been manufactured, to begin with. It is said that the Modi government is trying to take away the citizenships of Indian Muslims by amending the Citizenship Act. But the fact remains that the amended Act aims at “Making Citizens” and it has nothing to do with the Muslims. It deals with the persecuted minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Some perversely argue that why Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh are denied this opportunity. But, are they the minorities in those countries? After all, the country was partitioned when Muslims wanted a separate country for themselves. And after partition, the fact remains that the Hindus and Sikhs, who formed a significant percentage of nearly 25 percent of the population in the undivided Pakistan, are virtually non-existent in that country today. And the Hindu population in Bangladesh has dwindled and is dwindling at a rapid pace. In contrast, the number of Muslims who remained in India after partition has grown from around 8 percent in 1947 to more than 15 percent today. This would not have been possible if the Muslims were a persecuted community in India.
Importantly, the likes of Gandhi see the happenings in Kashmir and Assam in anti-Muslim terms. Gandhi wants the restoration of the Article 370 which the Modi government rightly abrogated as it kept Kashmiris away from the national mainstream. Gandhi considers any state action against the secessionist terrorists in Kashmir as anti- Muslim. Similarly, the illegal immigration of people into Assam, something no country in the world ever allows, must not be checked, say the likes of Gandhi. For them, any measure against illegal immigrants is anti-Muslim as most of them happen to be Muslims.
Of course, the majority of the Muslims in India happen to be poor and educationally backward. But this has been the case with the Hindus, the majority community, as well. After all, India is still a developing country. In any case, the Muslim backwardness is not a new phenomenon. As the Sachar Committee, which was set up by the UPA government under the supreme leadership of Sonia Gandhi, had revealed, Muslims were the poorest in West Bengal, which always has been ruled by a “secular government”, be it by the Congress, Communists or Trinamul Congress. And comparatively, Muslims were most advanced in Gujarat, which has been under the BJP government (that too led by Modi as the Chief Minister).
The likes of Gandhi do not realize that the real amelioration of the Muslim backwardness will take place when there is economic development of the country and there are increased business opportunities. Better roads, uninterrupted supply of power, pucca houses with toilets will benefit all Indians, including Muslims. All told, if the private sector and private businesses boom (and they have boomed in recent years) and there is no overdependence on government jobs, which, by their very nature, are limited, there will be no particular discrimination against Muslims. As many noted economists have pointed out that Muslims are indeed more entrepreneurial than the Hindus. They have already done well in entertainment, small servicing centres, retail and logistics, automobile and equipment repair centres, etc. Particular mention may be made here how Muslim filmmakers, actors, singers, musicians and writers have always dominated the Indian film industry.
Unfortunately, the so-called secularism that has been promoted or practiced by the likes of Gandhi and their parties is nothing but co-opting a selected few of Muslim elites while keeping the overwhelming majority poor, uneducated and ghettoized. And these co-opted leaders do everything to ensure that ordinary Muslims do not join the national mainstream.
These leaders, in fact, push the majority of their co-brethren backward by preaching to them the importance of Madrasa education and Sharia. They encourage the narrow-minded Mullahs and other religious leaders to keep their “separateness” from the Hindus distinct as “Islam is the supreme religion in the world; others cannot be equal”. Only thing in return that these “secularists” demand is that the Muslims must vote en- bloc against a particular party or leader during the elections.
In fact, these co-opted Muslim elites in the so-called secular camp are the biggest enemies of Indian Muslims. Let it be reminded that it is these Muslim elites like Syed Ahemad Khan and Mohammad Ali Jinnah who partitioned the country. They had said that “superior” Muslims could not work with Hindus in a democratic India. And such Muslim elites in independent India think also likewise. See their aversion towards uniform civil code. They openly say that they are “Muslims first”, Indians second. For them, Sharia is more important. So they resent any move against triple-talaq and polygamy.
For instance, we have in India a self-appointed body of AIMPLB. Once its Assistant General Secretary, Mohammedd Abdul Rahim Quraishi, asserted that as Islamic law permits polygamy up to four wives, “The Indian Muslims follow the Islamic law as is propounded in the Quran and the Hadith and they are not bound in any way to follow the examples of any Muslim country (banning polygamy).”
All this leads to one important aspect concerning Indian Muslims: the distinction of “moderate” Muslims from the “hardliner” jihadis. But how many “moderate Muslims” are raising their voices in favour of the authentic and peaceful teachings of Islam?
However, in my considered view, there is one area where we should be concerned. And that is the declining number of elected Muslim leaders in our legislatures, including Parliament. With the defeats of these so-called secular parties in the elections over the last 10 years, it is the responsibility of the BJP and Modi to give moderate Muslims party tickets. But that has not happened.
Of course, one may counter-argue that fielding Muslim candidates not for their worth as achievers but for their religion amounts to tokenism, a phenomenon that was practiced by Rahul Gandhi’s Congress party in the past. A study in the Economic and Political Weekly had once shown that the Congress gave Muslims only token representations in the legislatures but made no significant efforts to improve their lot. Interestingly, Muslim candidates were fielded in areas where they did not have any chance of winning. Even those who managed to win – many of them were rewarded not for their self-
endeavour but for having inherited the legacies of their parents – hardly represented Muslim interests in Parliament or in government.
The question that arises, thus, is: Should the Muslims continue to repose their faith only in the non-BJP parties just because they are said to be “secular” and avoid the BJP just because it is perceived to be “communal”? Because apart from the dubious “fear” of BJP’s “communalism”, there is nothing concrete that the Muslims have against the BJP.
One is told of the selective lynching of Muslims have taken place in recent years. It is condemnable. But then many more of lynchings of Hindus have also taken place. Why should one bring religion here? Why can’t we see it as a criminal act and punish the criminals?
Similarly, it is a well-established fact that more anti-Muslim riots have been engineered in the Congress-ruled states than in states under the BJP. One often hears that this is a diabolic design on the part of the BJP to tell the Muslims, “vote for us if you want safety to your life and property or else face the consequences”.
This is, again, a weak argument. For, one can counter argue that communal riots are caused by the non-BJP parties just to perpetuate the myth of BJP’s communalism and prevent it from coming to power.
It is indeed time that the Muslims went beyond their passive role as a vote-bank of some select parties. They need to be much more active politically to be a decisive factor in the country’s decision-making process. And for this to happen, they must participate to emerge as an important force within all major political formations, including the BJP.