Flip-flop over the minorities


Flip-Flop Over The Minorities, Vote-Banks In The Election, Vote-Catching-Slugfest, Political Groups. There is nothing unusual for political groupings...

The Sachar Committee found the plight of Muslims worse than that of Dalits. In quite a substantial sense they have undeniably played a historical role and thus much of their problems are rooted in history–many of them flowing from the Partition.
There is nothing unusual for political groupings to put the focus on potential vote-banks in the election year but so long as it does not degenerate into an unabashed double-speak and a vote-catching-slugfest: smiles and snarls make a strange mix. The UP government’s announcement of special relief measures for the victims of the Muzaffarnagar is a case in point, the matter reaching the Apex court. The scheme was finally found to be ill-conceived inasmuch as it aimed to benefit only one community leaving other affected sections in the communal frenzy.
More recently, the Aam Admi Party found itself in the dock and was hauled up before the Election Commission on the charge of promising to address the concerns of the “Muslims exclusively”. Even though in a different context, the Gujarat Government upped the ante contending that the Centre’s action of setting up the Sachar Committee was unconstitutional having the avowed objective to resolving the problems of the Muslims only. In fact, this came up in the course of an affidavit filed before the Apex court regarding the Centre’s scheme of minority scholarships for pre-matriculation Muslim students. However, the point of issue at the moment is related to the election–oriented strategy of major political groups in the fray.
The question of minority welfare has rather been inextricably linked with the democratic principles and as such it concerns the entire gamut of the problems of all the minority groups–Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Parsis. But unquestionably the case of Muslims has been more pronouncedly discussed, time and again. A number of committees and commissions have had been constituted over the decades to address their problems which are in many ways special.
The Sachar Committee found the plight of Muslims worse than that of Dalits. In quite a substantial sense they have undeniably played a historical role and thus much of their problems are rooted in history–many of them flowing from the Partition. Other groups face problems but of a different nature and perhaps not as complicated. It is of course a sad story and more so a sad commentary on the tardiness of the progress made towards resolving them. But the point worth noting is that even though there the problems one too many facing the Muslims, there is no such thing as a ‘Muslim problem’ in India.
The course of history ran in a zigzag ever since the setback to the Congress fortunes in the mid-‘eighties. There is no denying that this synchronized with a phase marking the decline of secular values subsequently. However, the rise of regional parties in the states of UP and Bihar saw a certain consolidation of the OBC-Muslim vote-banks under the leadership of the two Yadav chieftains–Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad–more effectively symbolized in the latter’s ‘MY’ formula. The burgeoning of the far right brand of politics virtually put the Congress on the defensive and by the turn of the century it turned to the policy of ‘defensive secularism’.
The era of coalitions dawned with the emergence of NDA and UPA formations. The Congress was then seen following the soft Hindutva as against the BJP-led NDA hardliners. The position has not undergone any appreciable change during the Congress-led UPA-II regime even as it will soon be completing of its ten years in power.
The right-wing surge has been effective enough and has come to be strikingly reflected in the idiom and language of the mass media. Indeed, a far-cry from the heady days of the first two decades of independence, and even a good-intentioned gesture of Home Minister Shinde sending an advisory to the States urging caution while booking the Muslims in terror-related cases drew flak for its ‘communal bias’.
Yet, electoral compulsions can change all that dramatically when adjustment and reconciliation become the imperatives. The Congress and the BJP are face to face again as two major contenders, but none of them is strong enough to come to power on its own. It is no surprise that the two brave-heart rivals do not hesitate admitting the inevitability of a coalition in the future too. It is, of course, a different case in the States where new governments will be in the saddle in the coming few days. As it is, with the exception of Mizoram all the four states–Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi–have have stake in the minority votes.
While it is possible to identify and sum up the grievances of any given community, there is no measure to assess the quantum of human suffering. One can only say by experience that it is invariably the numerically weak who reap the bitter part of the harvest. Yet, every section has its baptism by fire and has its share of misfortune in varying degrees. Always there are some who are fated to suffer more–the relief camps of Muzaffarnagar speak for themselves–and tell all.
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