BJP uses Muslim Card to increase its hold on Majority Hindu Vote Bank, and Congress uses them to conserve their majority vote bank. Other political parties are only marginally different. BJP thinks that if they can garner Hindu majority behind it, the unification of Hindu Vote Bank can be achieved only through an anti-Muslim campaign, which can vary from subtle underground current that always keeps flowing to recurrent high voltage dramas like Ram Mandir movement, anti-terrorism plank, Cow vigilantism, and riots.
Congress on the other hand tries to keep Muslims amused through its “secular” credentials and occasional booties, which are just enough to keep Muslims glued to it but are not large enough to distance its Hindu vote bank. Left with no option, Muslims have to vote for a lesser evil.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeated what the political leaders and pundits of this country have been saying for long: that Muslims are mere Vote Banks in India. When some political leader or party uses the word “Vote Bank Politics”, it amuses me. Politics after all is all about votes and every political party looks for vote banks. A party cannot simply be called a political party if it does not have its share in vote bank. What amuses me even more is that BJP calls Muslims a vote bank and blames all other parties to try to win them. The truth in Indian politics is that Muslims have failed to become vote banks. Banks are hard bargainers who get much more than they give. The case with Muslims has been the other way round. They are being used, rather misused for keeping intact or snatching the other vote banks of the country.
BJP uses Muslim Card to increase its hold on Majority Hindu Vote Bank, and Congress uses them to conserve their majority vote bank. Other political parties are only marginally different. BJP thinks that if they can garner Hindu majority behind it, the unification of Hindu Vote Bank can be achieved only through an anti-Muslim campaign, which can vary from subtle underground current that always keeps flowing to recurrent high voltage dramas like Ram Mandir movement, anti-terrorism plank, Cow vigilantism, and riots. Congress on the other hand tries to keep Muslims amused through its “secular” credentials and occasional booties, which are just enough to keep Muslims glued to it but are not large enough to distance its Hindu vote bank. Left with no option, Muslims have to vote for a lesser evil.
Muslims have not yet been able to organize themselves in a way that they can bargain on equal footing with other political parties. They have not yet realized that once they get organized they can successfully bargain not only with the lesser evils but also with the bigger one. The problem is that even if they have the desire to organize, they have no leaders who can show them the right way to do this. The right way should of course be one which organizes them not merely on emotional issues but for their ideological, social, economic and political empowerment so that they can play a meaningful role in national affairs. And this should be achieved not through alienation of but through alignment with other communities and sections.
Challenges before Muslims ?
The major challenges for Muslims are twofold. First they have to learn to raise their voices on issues that concern the whole nation. These issues related to economy, health and society will do much bigger good to the impoverished Muslim community than the emotional Muslim specific issues. Second, while they must never give up their specific demands, they must learn to present themselves in a more effective way without giving their enemies an opportunity to misuse them for their own political aggrandizement.
Muslims are not being given rights like reservation on the plea that the Secular Constitution of the country does not recognize religion as the ground of awarding these rights. The truth on the other hand is that Muslims are being denied genuine rights on the ground of religion. While almost all Hindus have the reservation in education and jobs in one way or the other, Muslims have almost no reservation.
Dalit and OBC Hindus have almost 50 pc reservation on the basis of their belonging to castes which are within the Hindu fold. The upper castes, being mostly rich, have got reservation for themselves through large-scale privatization of education which only they can afford to establish and join. They have not just monopolized the education industry this way; they have also secured the future of their children. Muslims have neither the right on the basis of castes (because they are also Muslims) nor is the overwhelming majority of them in any position to join the private institutions. And of course they have hardly any share at all in the Private Education Sector. Though technically, Mandal Commission provides them reservation but it is not being realized on the ground in an effective way.
What is the Solution ?
While Muslims must play their role in the elections, they must vow that their real struggle starts after the elections on much before the next elections. That is the time when they must launch a nationwide campaign on the issues of their choice (both of general and specific importance) with long term planning. They must know that it is easier for any government to take decisions on their demands after the elections rather than closer to the elections when they are much more fearful of Hindu backlash. Unfortunately till now, Muslims become active only on the eve of elections.
If Prime Minister thinks “Muslims are our own”, he must take effective steps to give Muslim their due shares in whatever India owns. He must inform the nation in every Union Budget what is the the Economic Disparity Index in India, general as well as community to community; he must announce steps to reduce that economic disparity fast enough. He must ensure that private institutions do not become educational hubs and job providers only for the Upper Caste rich Hindus, and other deprived sections including Muslims must have their due shares there.
He must ensure that Muslim colonies and Muhallas are taken care of with the same alacrity as Hindu colonies are taken care of. He must tell the country that Muslims have as much role to play in deciding the national policies and goals as others have.
And finally, he must tell them that Muslims must feel as secure in the country and must be in a position to exercise their religious and personal rights as freely as others have. Muslims on the other hand must learn to become real Vote Banks which can bargain hard in return of votes. For learning this, they must toe the methodology of the very same vote bank, which Mr Modi represents.