By Kaleem Kawaja
Muslim parties like Owaisi’s MIM is saying that they are opposing secular parties in upcoming elections since they are not doing enough for Muslims. As we saw in the 2014 election and the Maharashtra Assembly election in early 2015, this tactic backfired and directly polarized Hindu voters and resulted in many secular oriented Hindus voting for BJP and Shiv Sena, the two rabid anti-Muslim parties and they formed governments. MIM won 2 seats in Maharashtra Assembly and foisted a simple majority for BJP government there. MIM is not teaching a lesson to secular parties, it is helping divide Muslim votes and helping more Hindus vote for BJP. This has been proved several times.
These actions of Muslim parties like MIM, Ulema Council and Peace Party are hurting the future welfare of Muslims in a big way by foisting BJP governments who are oppressing Muslims. If they want to help Muslims, they should form alliances and seat adjustments with secular parties. Sure, put pressure on secular parties but do not cut your own throat. That will help stop BJP and also prevent the polarization of votes along the line of religion, which causes huge harm to Muslims. Remember that Muslims are only 18 percent of the population in India and that too is thinly spread across the country. Look at Bihar. Laloo and Nitish who were enemies, each trying to get more seats for their respective castes. But to face the menace of BJP, they have come together in an alliance and seat adjustment because of the fear of dividing their votes and loosing with BJP winning. This happened in 2014.
Unfortunately MIM is mostly opposing Muslim candidates of secular parties. In Maharashtra their tactics resulted in fewer Muslim MLAs there than before. In UP Ulema Council opposed Mulayam Singh in Azamgarh in the 2014 election. What were they trying to prove? It is also erroneous to say that Muslim MLAs in secular parties do not speak for Muslims. They do. Muslims who are enthusiastically supporting MIM appear to often be the remnants of the Pro-Pakistani families who did not go to Pakistan in 1947. They can not purge themselves of that very destructive virus. So now they are bringing it up again with religion based rhetoric, beards and burqas as the icons of Muslims. But Muslims want to modernize themselves like Hindus have done and be a part of the Indian mainstream.
Muslim Indians have moved far ahead of 1947 and Pakistan and religion-based politics. They want education, jobs and integration with secular Hindus in schools, colleges, offices where they work etc. They do not want to waste their time and energy in confrontation with BJP, RSS, Shiv Sena, Togadia, Sakshi Maharaj, Mahant Vaidyanath etal. Let those loonies shout in the air. Muslims do not want to lock horns with them. Muslims want to isolate them by forming alliances with secular Hindus.
Most Muslims who are well educated like graduates in engineering, IT, medicine, Sciences from Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Milia Islamia, Hamdard University, Anjuman Islam colleges in Maharashtra,, Muslim Education Society colleges in Tamil Nadu and Kerala etal, are finding jobs in multinationals and government in India. Almost 40 Muslims qualified for IAS and allied services in 2015. It is the educational backwardness of Muslims that is pulling them away from the Indian mainstream. So most Muslims want to remedy this ill by forming alliances with secular Hindus. Not opposing secular political parties that leads to their isolation from mainstream.
Muslims want to devote one generation to self improvement in various areas and improve their communities’ worth. So that 20 years from now India will look up at them with respect, and not look down at them because they live in slums, are uneducated and hold the lowest jobs, and their politicians make senseless speeches. Surely Muslims are not getting equitable justice and police is brutal to them. And they and their parties should protest against that injustice invoking the nation’s constitution and shaking up the conscience of India.
Many a gutsy and dedicated Hindu fighters for justice for Muslims like Teesta Setalvad and Sanjiv Bhatt are every day putting their lives on line opposing mighty government machinery that oppresses Muslims. They suffer for justice for oppressed minorities. The welfare of Indian Muslims lies in integrating themselves more with secular Hindus in the social, cultural, political arenas so that it translates into justice for them. When secular parties do not pay enough attention to their grievances they need to put positive pressure on them.
They should remind the Mamta Banerjis, Nitish Kumars, Laloo Yadavs, Mulayam Singhs, Jayalalithas, Mayawatis, Sonia Gandhis of the urgency for their governments to improve their conduct vis-a-vis the Muslims. They should join hands with Dalits and tribals who are similarly suffering from lack of justice and police brutality. Whenever any Dalit is oppressed Muslims should be there to help them. Muslims should hold on to the secular structure of the country as the mantra for their redemption from injustice and backwardness and put pressure on the secular elents.