Muslims are accused of voting en bloc. I wish they do. And do so strategically and in conjunction with other underprivileged people across the rainbow of Indian society. Just for ensuring their right to life if nothing else.
Before I tell you how or why, let me tell you who indeed Indian Muslims are. When a state was created for avowedly for them way back in 1947, not many chose to leave. Indian Muslims are those faceless multitudes who stayed back. Some believing in the assurances of congress of fair and honourable treatment and rest of their own accord, repudiating the two-nation theory. And some just could not afford moving out, but the nascent India’s constitution helped them cling pm to their home and hearth. In the event those who stayed back had also to face the hostility of a section in Hindu society that wanted their Hindu Pakistan.
Now these Hindu Pakistani elements were always present in every conceivable social, political and state machinery in both pre-independent and independent Indias. Inside and outside of the Congress. The Sociopolitical segment fed on the state segment and vice versa. A section of administration was and is always a bemused bystander when helpless people get butchered. Sometimes they play cheerleaders too. Direct physical complicity is also on gory display and then. Who make such a bloody social flux possible? Politicians, our elected representatives. So Indian Muslims must vote in such a way that such elements don’t find a place in the legislature, as far as possible.
Democracy is a number game. And Muslims don’t sum up arithmetically. In the circumstances how should they ensure their welfare. First and foremost they must dismiss with contempt both the rabid Hindu nationalists as also the fanatical Muslim clerics. They must confine their religious identity to where it fits in best: within confines of masjids & their homes. And then they must join cause with sections of population with similar socioeconomic and political status. That helps everyone. And they as of now must avoid party affiliation. They must vote the candidate best suited to beat the communal elements in fray. Economics may wait. Prosperity has eluded them for long, it can wait perhaps. But security and right to life first.
In 1947 a Jawaharlal Nehru broke his security cordon and went to the rescue of Muslims in danger of being lynched on a Delhi Street. We can see what plight even such a legacy has suffered.
One of my diaspora neo-Hindu nationalist friends defends Vajpayee and BJP as ‘real secular’ because, according to him, Vajpayee helped save some family members of late Khuswant Singh in 1984 when the later called him up the former.
Muslims have had enough of this ‘Vajpayee legacy’ of ‘real secularism’. Whats there to say about a political philosophy that condemns ‘non Hindus’ to non-citizenship. They don’t consider all human beings as equal even when it come to those within the Hindu fold itself – perhaps they are being true to the scriptures their ideologues subscribe to.
So then class struggle in Indian context is more caste struggle than a definitive rally between haves and have-nots.
In such a backdrop, they’ve to strategize constituency-wise, in collaboration with other oppressed backward lots. Their priority surely must be to defeat majoritarian fascism. Luckily for them a majority of the majority community doesn’t contribute to this fascism. In fact they vehemently condemn such arrogance.
So then the need of the hour for Muslims is to align themselves with this huge multitude in the majority community. And vote for a lesser devil that their empathetic brethren from majority might opt for. That will keep the bigots at bay resulting in the victory of those who wont lead mobs in the street ‘to teach them a lesson’ – those elected with Hindu and Muslim support are very likely to have a non-partisan mindset in dealing with state machinery when social fabric is in danger, as it is now.
When Muslims want to elect representatives who can promote egalitarianism, they will find themselves in the company of many like-minded Hindus, And their boat will reach its destination – that of happiness for one and all – weathering all storms along the way.
Politics has its inherent share of violence. I will conclude by narrating two incidents from my own life. I was physically abused by CPM in my university life. But I never felt I was ambushed because I had a Muslim name. For that was not the case at all. Those who thrashed me were both Muslims and Hindus. Together they represented a persecuting political mindset. And those who came to my rescue had people from either fold as well. Thus this divide is not airtight. Political osmosis helps elements (of either type !) permeate across the membrane of separation.
Some years down the line when I left my home and came to Maharashtra, one of my colleagues in officers’ club wanted to know, after few swigs of whiskey, why I had not left for Pakistan. I didn’t respond to him – he was a good friend and he had momentarily become unhinged. That’s about all.
I don’t regret not responding to him nor my choosing to stay back!!. This is a great nation. We have a lot to gain by standing by each other.
(The writer is a Chandrapur based analyst. Chandrapur is a red corridor district in Maharashtra)