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Lok Sabha Elections-2014 & Muslims

Jasim Mohammad
The process of election for 16th Lok Sabha has already begin. Nearly all political parties and leaders are trying to capture Muslim votes just because they knew it well that without their support, power in Centre cannot be achieved. In the elections two words development and inclusive politics are being used or rather misused to influence the voters and all the voters irrespective of their religious or cattiest tag should take care not to fall on those words as they are just a misnomer. Before deciding in favour of any political party one should also analyse the past track record. In doing so only negative points must not be considered but emphasis should be given to positive ones. Secondly we should understand that the current elections are not simple elections. Perhaps this is the first election which is being contested directly by corporate houses. In earlier elections the corporate houses never indulged directly in election process and used to give only donations to the political parties. But in the current elections they are directly in the field and are backing Narendra Modi who has been declared Prime Ministerial candidate by the BJP. Students of political history of India knew well that the big business houses had always cherished the desire to have their own “man” in control of New Delhi and if the masses failed to take correct decision in present elections, then that long cherished dream of corporate houses is going to be realised and the results will be horrified.
                 Muslim community is standing on a cross-road. Historically they have been always cheated politically. Without going into back history, only the recent example of Samajwadi Party is sufficient to convey the message. In the assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh, Muslims supported and voted the SP enmasse but soon after its taking over the power in state riots began and the government failed to show any indication that it wanted to control those riots and then all hell broke out in Muzaffarnagr where Muslims were selectively butchered. The things did not stopped on that, large number of poor Muslims had to flee their living places and instead of providing any relief to them the UP government went on to accuse some political parties for engineering the riot. Yes, it may have been started by anyone but the UP government was constitutionally duty bound to control them which it did not. Even without providing any alternative place to go or providing security to them to return at their original places, the UP government had bull-dozed the relief camps where more than 40 children had died in acute cold.
Of late the political parties have realised that just during election time they pamper the Muslims and they vote. Political parties have used selected elite personalities to subjugate the Muslims and these innocent people are unable to understand who is really exploiting them. There are vote brokers mainly in Delhi who come out during elections in favour of one or the other party and it is most horrifying to see that poor Muslims believing them to be their massiah just go by them. This is not political maturity at all. Muslim community should re-analyse its stand and take decision accordingly.
 In past Muslims have also supported to some other parties like BSP but what happened? Mayawati extended support to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi during Gujarat assembly elections. If we closely go by history, Mayawati never condemned demolition of Babri Masjid or Gujarat genocide. During her entire tenure, she did not took any step for Muslim welfare or their empowerment and remained engaged in constructing parks and statues. In fact Mayawati has done what even BJP failed to do. Just during her tenure she completely changed the character of UP capital Lucknow. The city has changed from the “City of Nawabs” to “city of Dalit Statues”. One may say what difference it will make? The first look of any individual or city is the most important for highlighting or burying its history and Mayawati succeeded in achieving that.
There are some other small political parties too who ditched the Muslims but they have not much presence and are limited to selective areas like Rashtriya Lok Dal ( RLD) It has its some influence in western Uttar Pradesh. Muslims supported RLD in entire belt beginning from Meerut to Muzaffarnagar but the party led by Ch. Ajit Singh kept a deadly silence on Muzaffarnagar riots. Ajit Singh was not far off, he may have travelled to Muzaffarnagar in a very short time but he did not. In these elections RLD has alliance with the Congress.
As far as the BJP is concerned , we all know its real and hidden agenda but in the current elections, the BJP has taken a clever shield over his hidden agenda of Hindu Rashtra and that is the development issue. No doubt development is very important issue for any individual, society or country but it is useless without guarantee of security . In fact security and justice delivery comes before the development. The BJP has taken the development just to legitimise itself politically otherwise the whole tenure of Narendra Modi in Gujarat prove that the real meaning of BJP development is the development of “few” has and that “few” never included Muslims. In my view Muslims does not need development, they badly need justice. If justice is done then they may prosper and develop themselves.
These elections are turning point in the political history of India from where either it will go to the path of secularism and inclusive politics or may deviate to a Hindu rashtra with exclusive politics. Interestingly the out-come or result is not in the hands of BJP or Hindutva Brigade but in the hands of deprived classes and marginalised masses including Muslims. So care should be taken in finalising choice of political party to be backed by Muslims. Any wrong decision may lead us to a point of “no return”.
Let us discuss the oldest political party of India, the Congress. There is no doubt that the Congress failed to fullfill aspirations of the Muslims but despite that fact, it is also a fact that the Congress tried very hard to take up Muslim welfare honestly. During its first term in centre, UPA (1) appointed the Sachar Committee to unearth real socio-economic status of Muslims. It was always known that the Muslim community is lagging behind other communities but UPA (1) appointed Sachar Committee to give it an authenticity for using its report in future to develop Muslim society. It is a very simple point that such a historical backwardness cannot be removed in a short span of time. When UPA(1) began implementing recommendations of Sachar Committee next elections of Lok Sabha arrived. It was necessary that the UPA Alliance is given a second term to under-take remaining recommendations. And fortunately Muslims gave it that chance in some states but in UP they divided their votes . It must be kept in mind that by casting votes in favour of regional parties we are harming our own interests.
On national level the contest is between two parties : the Congress and the BJP. By supporting other regional parties we are only supporting BJP indirectly which is not desirable by any definition.
                      UPA government led by Congress took some very important steps. Introduction of Right To Information Act (RTI) is no mean achievement. Though it is not exclusively for Muslims but indirectly they gain much from it. Another very important action was the Right to Education (RTE). Though I feel that we ourselves failed to take its much advantage but RTE is most important for Muslims. Leaving aside some other steps like identification of 90 Muslim concentrated districts and special packages to it, releasing another package of 66crore rupees to the Sari industry of Banaras and Carpet industry of Bhadohi (Mirzapur) and making efforts to provide reservation to Muslims which could not take concrete shape due to judicial interventions. Let us scrutinise some other decisions.
                      Due to the policies of Congress led UPA government for the first time the public sector banks have crossed their target of loaning to weaker sections of society including Muslims. In fact the efforts were made by the government in June 2006  itself when for the first time an authentic list was prepared of the Muslim concentrated areas where banks are needed and the public sector banks were directed to open their branches in those areas First they were ordered to give 13% of the total loans to the minorities but later the target was increased to 15% The recent data of banks have revealed that on the closing of 31 December 2013 a total of Rs. 2,11,451,73 crore was loaned to minorities which comes as 15.24% of the total loaning. The government also initiated a monitoring system and the Finance Ministry officials began monitoring and due to that the banks crossed their target in June 2013. Interestingly political analysts point out that in the states where branches of banks were opened, the Congress gained politically like the Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnatka and UP. The under-mentioned chart points out real picture :

………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Year            Loaned Amount ( in Crores)           Target          Target Achieved
…………………………………………………………………………………………………
2008-09        82,865                                         13%             11.42%
2009-10        1,12,039                                       15%             13.14%
2010-11         1,43,397                                      15%             14.16%
2011-12        1,64,748                                       15%              14.55%
2012-13         1,85,234                                      15%             14.59%
2013-14        2,11,452                                        15%            15.24%
………………………………………………………………………………………………….
 Apart of that the UPA government took steps to preserve Waqf properties and tried to pass the Anti-Communal Violence Bill but failed due to disruptions of the BJP in Parliament.
As I have earlier said that these elections are not simple one, so we have to chalk out a fool proof strategy to defeat the communal forces on ground level. India badly needs a secular government and to achieve that target the Congress is the only option. It should be given another chance to implement its remaining plans. In this connection I would like to point out that Muslims and Congress both should take up some immediate steps as the days for voting are not far ahead.
 The Congress
                       It is the oldest party in country with a secular tradition and culture. Some time I really worry that why the Congress fails to take advantage of its ground level welfare works. Perhaps its leader fail to highlight their achievements among masses. For example how many people are aware that due to Congress the public sector banks are easily loaning seed money to the minorities. Congress high command should take services of the local NGOs to highlight such things. In practice what Congress bosses do is to collect only some well established religious and social leaders based at Delhi who just make bargains for their own personal gains. Instead the Congress should engage ground level small town NGOs and social workers. Secondly the package released by UPA government for Banarasi Sari and Bhadohi Carpet industry is a revolutionary step which has saved these dying industries but till moment I have not heard anybody to point out that in TV debates of in any other forum. Congress must take political milage of its affirmative actions.
 Muslim Community
Indian Muslims should understand that the core ideology of Congress is secular and it is a natural party for them. They cannot achieve much by deserting it. They deserted Congress and betted on SP what happened? Only lap-tops cannot develop such a backward society at all. Further the current elections are between Hindutva forces led by BJP and secular forces led by Congress and we have to chose between a Tiranga Hindustan and a Bhagva Hindurashtra.
Hence intellectually it may be advised that the Muslim community come out enmasse in support of the Congress, only then this country can be saved from chaos.
History never forgives anyone. If today we failed to take correct assessment and decision then the future generations will not excuse us for our lapses and historians will certainly write that we lacked initiate and farsightness.

About the author

Jasim Mohammad. The writer is Secretary General of Millat Bedari Muhim Committee (MBMC) Aligarh

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