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Muslim Community: Think before you Vote

THE GENERAL elections have begun in the country. In the coming 25 days, the world’s largest democracy will elect a new government. But one thing that peeves me is the way the political parties are trying to garner votes from the Muslims of the country. Instead of uniting the different sections of society, which ideally is their job, many politicians are playing the “Divide and Rule” game which the British preached, to keep their vote banks intact.

MJ Akbar has mentioned in an article that “A history of riot, and the threat from organizations like the Bajrang Dal are sewn into wild conspiracy theories by ‘leaders’ of the community to shape minds on the eve of an election. For secular politicians, the Muslim vote comes at an easy exchange rate. Other communities demand rice and roads. The Muslim needs nothing more than the old ploy used to help children go to sleep: stories of ghosts and monsters at the door.”

Almost 62 years of independence, 14 Lok Sabha elections and numerous Assembly elections, Muslims are still falling prey to the gimmick of our politicians. And this time too the story isn’t different. In the last one month we have seen politicians from various political parties projecting themselves as true saviors of the community.

Varun Gandhi’s rhetoric at Pilibhit landed him in jail. What Varun said was indeed shameful but the act of charging him under NSA by Mayawati government was clear move to woo the Muslim votes. Laloo Prasad Yadav then said that he would run the road roller on Varun Gandhi. Then Congress’s D Srinivas went a step further and threatened to “chop off the hands of those pointing fingers at the minorities.” A million dollar question is, Would Varun Gandhi be capable of doing what he said? I don’t think so. But these politicians made sure that they use Varun Gandhi to their advantage and projected him as the biggest threat to Muslim community.

The Babri Mosque demolition was one of the shameful incidents to happen in the history of independent India. After spending more than a decade on the lap of the Congress, Laloo realised that Congress was responsible for the demolotion incident as well. But the timing of his speech was such that it clearly showed that he wanted to prove that Muslims have to fear both the national parties and vote for him instead. Unfortunately, he forgot that there are more issues concerning to the community which needs to be addressed right away. But then he somewhere knows that this is the best way to gather Muslim votes. Seems Laloo is a champ in playing such vote bank politics.

Mulayam Singh Yadav projects himself as the messiah for Muslims. Ask him what he has done in Uttar Pradesh, while he was in power, for 23 per cent Muslims living in the state. He very happily argued that SIMI should not be banned. Though there are clear links between SIMI and few of terror strikes in the country. Isn’t this an act to appease Muslims? Also to consolidate the Lodh votes in the state he didn’t hesitate to include Kalyan Singh in his party. The same Kalyan Singh whom he had once labeled, a villain of the Babri Mosque demolition. He now has justified that Kalyan Singh was not responsible at all.

Why didn’t government try to investigate on the local support for 26/11 attacks?

What did Dr Manmohan Singh mean when he quoted that “Muslims should have first take on nation’s resources”? Aren’t they granted equal rights by the Constitution of the country? Can’t the condition of Muslims be improved by creating more awareness and making the resources more accessible to them rather then appeasing them? Won’t the broader problem remain unsolved by just appeasing them? Why didn’t any political party oppose to the lollypop of reservations to Muslims? Isn’t it similar to creating vote banks with caste based politics? Why not have some other criteria for reservations apart from caste and religion?

The answer to all the questions above lie in what MJ Akbar had once written in his article. “Indian Muslims will get development the day they vote for development. For sixty years they have voted out of fear, so that is what they have got from those they elected: the politics of fear.”

The community needs to self introspect and avoid being used as a vote bank. Community leaders need to empower their community through better education and awareness. Muslims have to realise they will get development only when they demand and vote for it. They need to seek answers from their leaders. They should make their elected personal more accountable. Things will change, if the community takes the initiative to bring that change. People of country will readily support them if they are given privileges as a citizen of this country and not as Muslims of the country. Change has to come within community itself.

A closed mind can never liberate a community from the shackles.


2 thoughts on “Muslim Community: Think before you Vote

  1. Very true…
    The self proclaimed leaders of Muslims have done nothing to empower it.
    They are very wisely using them as mere vote banks.
    It is high time for Muslims to think…
    I just remembered Akbar Allahbadi’s Urdu couplet about the plight of Indian Muslims during British rule:

    Qaum ke gham mein dinner khaate hai hukum ke saath
    Ranjh leader ko bahut hai par apne aasheyon aaram ke saath
    (Muslim leaders talk about the plight of Muslims during dinner with the British
    They are not concerned about the sad state of Muslims, but with their own comforts.)


  2. I read this article in HT. Few very good points made by Vir Sanghvi. I feel that their shouldn’t be two parameters to evaluate the communalism: one which is of BJP and other is of the rest political parties.
    Much is being made of Lalu Prasad’s attacks on the Congress on the campaign trail. Within the Congress, however, these attacks have not provoked much concern, only a certain irritation. The general view is that the RJD is sinking and that Lalu is flailing around desperately. Should the numbers work out, the Congress would have no difficulty in working with him at the Centre once again.

    The Congress is more concerned about the campaign that the Samajwadi Party is conducting in Uttar Pradesh. The media are content to buy the line that the Congress’s only problem with the Samajwadi Party is Sonia Gandhi’s loathing of Amar Singh. While it is true that Amar Singh is not exactly the oversized pin-up boy at 10 Janpath, this view gives him too much credit.

    The problems run much deeper. The Congress’s primary concern is that Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Samajwadi Party have hijacked its Muslim base by playing the communal card. Further, the Congress also believes that the party has criminalised the state and politicised the administration to an extent that is entirely unacceptable. This view has gained more ground after Rahul Gandhi began touring UP some years ago.

    An example of the Congress’s concerns is the current campaign being jointly waged by Amar Singh and Sanjay Dutt. Whenever this duo goes to a Muslim area, Sanjay gives an impassioned speech about his terrorism arrest. “The Bombay Police picked up Muslims and threw them in jail,” he says. “Then, when this looked bad, they locked up 15-20 Hindus as well. Throughout my time in jail, I was beaten up by the police who kept saying that I was the son of a Muslim mother.”

    The implication is obvious. Even if you’re half-Muslim and a successful Bollywood actor, you will be victimised in India and assaulted by the police only because of your religion.

    To say that this kind of statement is inflammatory is putting it mildly. Many people in the Congress argue that it is also communal.

    Why have one standard for the BJP’s anti-Muslim statements and another for the Samajwadi Party’s shameless pandering to the worst kind of Muslim communalism?

    Nobody in the Congress has forgotten that it was an Samajwadi Party minister who offered a reward for the head of the Danish cartoonist who depicted the Prophet in his cartoons. The party’s concern is that it will have to match this kind of communal rhetoric if it is to win back the Muslim vote. Worse still, if it aligns with the Samajwadi Party, it will have to condone such statements and probably have to agree with them in public.

    The perception that the Congress will refuse to align with the Samajwadi Party because the party’s principal concern is the welfare of Reliance ADAG may make for a good story. But it is not true. There are more significant problems. And should the numbers make an alliance imperative after the election, this is one marriage that cannot last.

    And it is this prospect that has given the Congress leadership sleepless nights.


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