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Muslims: 'yes' and 'no,' Mr Bangaru

Even as the BJPís new president Bangaru Laxman is trying to woo Muslims serious differences have arisen in his party. Several prominent leaders have contradicted the new party line, talking in different tunes. When Laxman is trying to attract Muslims by talking in placatory tunes, Govidacharia, the BJP general secretary, says that his party is committed to the cause of Hindutva. In fact, Bangaru Laxmanís statement has infuriated some of his party colleagues and has also not received any enthusiastic response from the Muslim community.

Muslims are not reassured by the comments of the BJP president. A section of the Muslim community feels that Bhartiya Janata Partyís recent overtures towards Muslims are merely aimed towards electoral gains as the party has been consistently losing its base in the country. Muslims feel that the BJP has been severely affected by the post-Mandal fragmented Hindu vote bank and the Ram Mandir card has lost its charm. And so they are trying to reach out to the Muslim community as a vote bank just as Congress did upto the 1980s..

No one is ready to trust the party till it remains a part of the Sangh Parivar. Muslims feel that the BJP has never been sincere towards Muslims and has done nothing but harmed them and their interests. Once bitten twice shy. Muslims are not ready to trust the words of the new occupant of the BJPís presidentís post. Skepticism is the right word to show how they think of his overtures. There are some leaders who believe that the party will have to come out with something concrete to demonstrate that yes it cares for Muslims as much as it cares for any other community in the country.

M Afzal, a Congress leader and former MP, says that inviting Muslims to BJP is part of a larger game plan of the RSS to consolidate its base in the country and then implement its hidden agenda. He said that the Muslim vote will certainly strengthen the BJP government and help it strengthen its base. He says that the concept of Muslim participation in the government was non-existent in the minds of the RSS people and they will never support such an idea. According to him, Bangaruís call is not to attract Muslims but to attract those secular Hindus who do not support it due to its extremist ideology.

Syed Shahabuddin, president of All Indian Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, said in a press statement that such declarations are part of the democratic process. He further said that any political party, particularly the one which considers itself as a national party, especially as a party heading a coalition government at the centre, should naturally devise ways to have at least a part of the Muslim community votes in order to secure majority in the Lok Sabha on its own and improve its performance in the state assemblies. Shahabuddin then adds, ĎHowever, since its first incarnation as Jan Sangh, the BJP not only ignored the legitimate grievances of the community but adopted a hostile and adverse attitude towards Muslims. As a result the Muslim community which may be feeling unhappy with other parties, has rejected the JBP as party which is anti secular, anti Muslim.í

Shahabuddin speaks in a reasonable way, but others are not so cautious about their comments. Saifuddin Soz, former union minister, says that Muslims will never allow the BJP to visualize its agenda, because they have seen its past. They are watching it at present and it says what is to follow in the future. Placating Muslims and Dalits is part of their new strategy. Itís so that the BJP has appointed a Dalit as its president.

Ubaidullah Khan Azmi, Rajya Sabha member, describes it as a new net of the same old hunter. He says what the BJP said in its resolution is as unclear as its policy on Kashmir. He says that changing stance will not help the BJP in any way. He adds that if the BJP wants to bring Muslims along-with it, it should concede Muslimsí assertion that its philosophy is poisonous for secular India.

Maulana Mahmood Madani, secretary general of Jamiatul Ulema-e Hind, is also more of less of same view. He says that the BJP is talking in a tune which is different from its ideology that helped its development. It is now resorting to a tune which is sycophancy and appeasement in the eyes of the RSS. The BJP itself has been saying the same but now it wants itself to bring Muslims within its fold. Bangaru Laxman wants to placate Muslims but this is unimaginable. The party considers Golwalkar as its ideal and Golwalkar thought that Hitler, who was responsible for Holocaust, was an exemplary personality. The BJP also supports Israel which wants to eliminate Muslims and has forcibly occupied Palestine. Muslim are not going to believe the BJP. 

But there are people who think that we should not dismiss the appeal of Bangaru as a mere gimmick. Tanveer Ahmed, chairman of the Central Hajj Committee, says that it was a strategy of the BJP to bring Muslims along with it from the very beginning. The BJP set up minority cells solely for this purpose. But it were only some politicians who created a misunderstanding between the BJP and Muslims.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, editor of Al-Risala, says that Muslims so far perceived the RSS as the greatest danger for Islam and Muslims. I have been the only person in the Subcontinent who says that the RSS does not pose any threat for Muslims. Itís only a paper tiger. But none believed me at that time. I advise Muslims not to take the RSS as their enemy and announce that it was just a false propaganda.

But people like Maulana Wahiduddin Khan and Tanveer are in a minority. A majority of Muslims in India are still not ready to believe the BJP, they are certainly not going to be bitten by the bug.
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