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  Rashtriya Sahara Roznama Sahara
Lessons learnt the hard way: Appeasing minorities is passé
Last Updated : 16 Mar 2017 11:29:04 AM IST
(File photo)
(File photo)

Promises made and deliverance doesn’t match. Stop fooling them

“BJP could not have won from the Muslim areas...”echoed Mayawati while addressing a press conference in Lucknow on the day of counting in five states. “The Muslim voters have not supported the BJP then how come their vote has been transferred to BJP. Several Muslim community leaders expressed surprise over the massive victory of BJP candidates in their constituency….. BJP did not give a single ticket to Muslims…but in Muslim- dominated seats also the results went in the BJP’s favour and this is unpalatable to the party,” she said.

When Mayawati was making this statement, one of my Muslim colleague’s face went red with rage. He very menacingly shouted, “Why is she misusing someone else’s religious status?” His reaction took most of us sitting in the newsroom by surprise as a thought similar to that of Mayawati was creeping in our minds too. My Muslim colleague did not stop here. He continued furiously, saying, “All political parties have been using us as pawn for their own power and furtherance.”  He was angry at Mayawati for putting across such a “scornful” thought in the community mind.

Election Commission was quick to deny Mayawati’s charge of manipulation in EVM.  But my middle-aged Muslim colleague continued to seethe. It was more of anguish than anger. His outburst is an eye opener to the emerging mindset of a community which has been courted by all for sheer political gains. History of electoral politics proves this. Whether it was at the time of Independence movement or after that, the Muslim community has been largely viewed as an en bloc vote bank and nothing else. Political parties woo them by promising them moon and if all the promises had been fulfilled, the block of around 20 crore people would have been the most literate, employed and rich. But the reality is quite contrary. 

  According to the Census 2011, the illiteracy rate among Muslims stands at 42.7 percent. The percentage of the non-working population is highest among Muslims in the country. According to data of Census office a massive 11.61 crore Muslims have been listed as non-workers. Non-workers are defined as those who do not participate in any economic activity, paid or unpaid, household duties, or cultivation. The low work participation rate indicates that community is largely poor and backward. Surveys have also shown that the women in the Muslim community are far more at disadvantaged positions than others.

Now look at the rate of crime among the Muslim community. Muslims make up 15.8% of all convicts and 20.9% of all undertrials in jails across the country. This is higher than their share in the country’s population, which is around 15%. In some states, this gap is far wider. This is according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.

There are many other surveys and findings which have repeatedly pointed to the fact that Muslims in the country have not been benefitted in the same proportion as promises are made to them by the various political parties. But then, may be the poll outcome of UP is indicative of a point which the community is perhaps trying to make and which is –stop playing politics on us

A massive mandate, BJP 324 cannot be dismissed as a mandate from Hindu voters only. Uttar Pradesh is a populous state having 20 percent Muslims in the state which means that Muslims too must have voted for him. And, this is what my Muslim colleague stressed upon. He and many of his known co-religionists did actually vote for the BJP.

Then there is another young Muslim colleague of mine who is still a trainee and hails from a conservative background from Bijnore. He hates politics on religion, despises religious fanaticism, and is supporting his young wife in her education endeavor. He believes in the openness of Indian thought, loves to participate in other religious festivities and goes to mosque during office break on Fridays. He believes in being Indian and does not want to be labeled as only a Muslim, and he says he did not vote for BJP as he is more attracted towards the charisma of Akhilesh Yadav.

In both of my Muslim colleagues, a hope for politics which transcends religion and caste can be seen. Mayawati openly plays Muslim and Caste card and this has been totally rejected by voters including Hindu, Muslim, Dalit, OBC, forward, backward, etc. The latent message is not that BJP is the winner in UP or Uttrakhand, or Muslims may have voted for Modi, the revelation is that anyone who does not do politics on the issue of caste and religion has a wide scope in the political paraphernalia of the country. Muslims may have or may not have, they may in future or they not in future vote for BJP or Modi, but they are indicating a yearning for a change. 


Deepika Bhan
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