Gujarat Elections and Muslims

By Abdul hafiz lakhani:

Gujarat’s Baroda based human right activist and staunch critic of PM Narendra Modi octogenarian J.S.bandukwala spoke with journalist on phone today. His thoughts are penned without no change.

Gujarat is headed into a crucial state elections. State elections are rarely crucial indicators of national mood. But Gujarat is the state, Narendra Modi has dominated for over two decades. It was his launch pad for total power within the BJP, and later as Prime Minister. In these twenty years, Modi has decimated the Congress. Oddly in 2017 Modi appears vulnerable. Why? Excess power can breed excess confidence. That is in the nature of power politics. Indira Gandhi made that same mistake in the emergency.

She let her son rule by proxy on her behalf. The emergency blunders weakened the party. It alienated her core supporters. The brashness of dealing with the bureaucracy and the police also
led to a heavy fall for the Congress. Although the weakness of the then Opposition allowed her to come back to power in 1980. Her horrible death made another landslide victory in 1984 inevitable.

Today the roles are reversed. A ” Pappu” Rahul Gandhi has emerged as a good advocate of his party. The Pappu tag no longer applies. There is a renewed passion within the Congress to succeed. Decision making has been streamlined. The State Congress leaders are speaking and acting in a coordinated way, which suggest a revival of the party. At the Central level Congress leaders are responding in a mature positive to national issues. Whether it is Manmohan Singh or Chidambaram, Gulam Nabi Azad or Kapil Sibal, their responses give confidence to the general public that the Congress can handle power wisely. It must be said that the party wisely sidelined leaders, who could have given the Congress a bad eye.

Narendra Modi;s over confidence has not helped the saffron forces. Demonetization and the GST have been badly handled. The price paid by poorer people has been heavy. There is no way one can cover up the fact that India needs atleast one million additional jobs created every year. This is just the figure of those youth who enter the job market. But Modi has failed badly on this count . WE may not be producing even 5 % of that figure right now. What happens to these frustrated youth ? This is best reflected in the fresh engineers graduating from our colleges. Even after paying huge amounts to receive education, these youth cannot be employed . This is bound to lead to frustration and bitterness at the grass root.

On way to divert this frustration is to polarize society along communal lines. This is the old tactic of the BJP, inherited from their Jan Sangh days That process is already growing in the country. It is best seen in terms of the awesome power enjoyed by fringe elements . Cow vigilantism, love jihad ,Kashmir and countless other issues are picked up by the saffron forces to push Muslims into a corner. It does create panic among Muslims.

But the community must be praised for its mature and calm responses. Mostly the issue is ignored. Unfortunately we do have Muslim ulema, who jump in when it is not advisable. I wish they would realize that it is better to refuse invitations of TV channels that are so closely tied to Muslim baiting.

The weakest point for Modi right now, is the silence of the Muslim community. It appears Muslims have quietly accepted their irrelevance inelectoral politics. This may sound disturbing to many of my liberal friends. Yet it is the best way to respond to Mod, It takes two to fight. When one quietly refuses the bait, the fight becomes meaningless. That is the best decision Gujarat Muslims have taken at this stage.