Set the poll rolling:
by Farzana Versey
The News International, May 20, 2009
My cellphone and Inbox are filled with cheesy messages. “Communal forces have been defeated. Progress and peace are in the offing. God is great. Jai ho!”
It isn’t the BJP defeat that bothers me as much as the Congress victory. For, we are being fed these false images of a young India, an India on the move, an India that is secular. How different is it from the ‘India Shining’ baloney?
The messages like the one I mentioned are mostly from progressive Indian Muslims who blatantly play the communal card, forcing mullahs to walk with them on peace rallies. They don’t even realise the silliness of their stand. Who stopped peace and progress while the non-communal government was in power? And was god not great when the NDA was at the Centre?
The worst part is the assumption that communal forces have been defeated. Take a look at the candidates put up. Why were rookies chosen? Because the majority of the electorate from those areas were from a particular caste or community. Besides that, every religious leader will be wooed.
The tendency to jump the gun is opportunistic. The rally-wallah Mussalmans know exactly which cause to espouse and when. They will join in issues which have international appeal – Palestine, Iraq, Mumbai attacks. How many take out morchas for Dalits, or those killed by Naxalites, or in Malegaon or Bhiwandi blasts?
They get thrilled when local corporators visit the slums that were demolished only because the star of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ lives there; they get excited about an activist who lands up wherever the cameras are wearing a bindi to show how secular she is. And we have had the disgusting sight of a man whose house was burned down during the Gujarat riots sit before a TV panel and tell the audience to move on. Why? He is a rich.
That is the reason I think the Indian Muslim reaction is kneejerk. Narendra Modi is not a spent force; he may be a regional leader but that is his strength. He has managed to consolidate his position in such a manner that even Muslim businessmen are talking about economic growth. That is all they are interested in. Modi spoke about 50 million Gujaratis without mentioning religion. It will be his smart card for years to come.
In fact, the BJP’s defeat will boost his position. While L.K.Advani is a statesman without a state, Modi will work his way through home ground. And nothing will happen to him. With vultures already preying on the party leadership position, Advani will have to deal with his own creation. He thought Modi would be a domesticated pet who could act as watchdog to warn visitors. The leash, alas, was too long.
The handful of the 150 million Muslims can continue to live in their canny paradise, but they have no right to make fools of those who do not have a choice or a voice.
When Uma Bharti had the gumption to declare before the elections that she and the senior BJP leaders did not know who demolished the Babri Masjid, there were no rallies by these so-called liberal Muslims demanding an explanation. How many bothered to collect the relevant data which is easily accessible and put it forward?
When there were questions asked about certain lies by NGOs in Gujarat, why did these Muslims not come forward and provide facts and figures or ask their own questions? How many of them will speak to the new government about expediting these cases? Or will they only look for their chance of getting a Rajya Sabha seat?
When the Darul Uloom issued a fatwa asking Muslims to vote, why did they not tell the religious organisation to stop interfering in the business of the state even if they were responding to the queries raised by the devout?
Religion and progress are not mutually exclusive; in fact, it is the most potent combination. You can sell faith faster than a burger. With extra cheese and mayo.
As long as this continues, and political leaders go around various places of worship, and you hear duas and shlokas on TV screens with a voice-over luring you with, “If you want this as your caller tune then SMS us”, we will remain a communal country.