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New political trends
By Siraj Paracha

Leaders of all political parties talk of real problems faced by Muslims. It has been happening for long and these leaders do it cleverly for their political gains. Many among Muslims too are coming forward for some easy gains on the plank of Muslim issues and problems. But the people with some guts and real concern for the community, those the community too thinks and believes them sincere for its cause, prefer to remain in isolation for their own peace and safety. One thing has become quite clear that no political party can enjoy the fruits of power and authority without practical cooperation of Muslims. Muslims have also realized their own power and strength, though it is a different matter that they are not in a position to obtain their constitutional rights because of their own internal weaknesses. Their problems have remained the same as it were. Time and circumstances have still not enabled them to draw up an active action plan for themselves. Some positive calls, howsoever ineffective these may be, are being heard to make them realize their importance. If these efforts continue something better can be expected out of the effort of the people behind these overtures.

Whenever elections are to be held, many pleasant words and promises are heard in political corridors. If only ten percent of these promises are fulfilled a number of problems faced by Muslims could be solved. Elections are to be held shortly in UP, Uttaranchal, West Bengal, Assam, Punjab and Tamil Nadu. Elections in UP, West Bengal and Assam are very important because of fairly large population of Muslims in these states. Had they been organized they would have made their presence felt on political arena and would have been in a position to get their problems fixed according to their needs. But even now they are in a position to make any party win or lose the elections. Therefore to tap Muslims electoral might some well-known politicians are feverishly trying to form a third front, though it is still a non-entity. It is not yet decided whether such a front would be formed and even if formed, what will be its future. Would it not meet the same fate as has been seen in the past. Therefore there is no use of talking about it before its formation. If we analyze and consider what the two main parties of the country are saying about Muslims and their problems, then only we can decide our goal and probably achieve it.

First of all we should consider the invitation of BJP’s new president, Bangaru Lakshman and its reaction. After taking charge he had invited Muslims and Dalits to join his party and had stated that they will be warmly welcomed. He had also stated that the excesses meted out to them so far will be compensated. There was a mixed reaction from Muslims to this proposal. One section described it as an indication of changing policy of BJP, the other group advised not to take it seriously and wait till the practical steps are taken in this direction, Meanwhile, before anything could be seriously considered, the leaders of BJP’s mother organization, while reacting to this invitation, linked it to the Indianization of Muslims and Christians. In reply to this, Bangaru’s contention was that the RSS has the main say in BJP's policies and even tickets for assembly and Parliament candidates are given with the approval of RSS. This is true, seeing that whenever a new movement is started or wherever and whenever elections are held, whole responsibility for its success is put on RSS cadre and unless this cadre devotes itself whole heartedly, success cannot be expected. There is no denying the fact that if and whenever the Sangh did not support, BJP could not succeed. That’s why senior leaders of the BJP take pride in declaring their connection with RSS . As a matter of fact, those who have some aim, do the same thing.

Bangaruji, you should remember that Muslims have spoilt the future of several of their generations because of false and empty promises. Now they want action. There is no dearth of political parties who want to make great promises to Muslims. Not to talk of verbal assurances, even written promises in manifestos are not honoured. Respected Sir, if you have got any plan for compensating the excesses and injustices meted out to Muslims, please make it public, and also explain as to how, when and by whom it will be put into practice because our experience till now has been that the persons appointed by you to represent them have nothing to do with Islam or Islamic rites except their names, whereas Muslims expect their representatives to be the followers of Islamic rites and practices. If by any chance there is a Muslim in your party who is not ashamed of being a Muslim and who is proud of being a Muslim but who does not hate other religions or its followers, is not tolerated in your party for long. Either he is compelled to leave your party or put in the cold storage. Why is it so?

Immediately after her re-election as president of Congress, Sonia Gandhi called a meeting of chief ministers of Congress-ruled state and instructed them to pay special attention to the problems of Muslims and Dalits and try to solve them immediately. She also instructed them to give them reservations in proportion to their population. In the past, Congress has done many injustices to Muslims and broken many promises made to them. Congress is solely responsible for the plight of Muslims who blindly supported it for forty years but what did it give them in return? We do not want to discuss any emotional topic on this occasion, otherwise we can ask as to who is responsible for the demolition of Babari Masjid? Who can deny the fact that after asking him to resign from the congress ministry in UP was it not Congress who asked Shri Dau Dayal Khanna to lead the first Ram Rath Yatra? Was it not Congress which first got the Babri Masjid unlocked and got the Shilanyas done? Why zamindari was abolished in UP, only and why was this law not enforced in the whole country? Was it not done to punish Muslims of UP only, with the intention of reducing respectable families of Nawabs and zamindars to rickshawalas, tongawalas? Who got the proposal of ‘Hindustani’ language defeated by a single vote because it was written in both scripts and because they knew it fully that Urdu will be the dominating language. Who destroyed the Waqf properties throughout the country? Leave all these things aside and only consider who is responsible for reducing Indian Muslims to second class citizens? Who has deprived Muslims of representation at every level?

We agree that Muslims should not continue to follow the beaten path. If the future of their community is dear to them, Muslims should welcome the steps proposed to be taken by Sonia Gandhi, sit together and find a way out to rectify and compensate the past mistakes in a positive manner. If respected Mrs Gandhi is really sincere in her intentions, she should convene a meeting of Muslim intellectuals of all shades and hues and discuss with an open heart the problems facing the Muslims today. Thereafter, if she gets the plans implemented in the Congress ruled states or in states where governments are formed with its support, other governments may also possibly implement such programs because Muslims now want action. They have seen and heard enough of idle talks and as a result have spoilt the future of several of their generations and no longer now want to make the future of the present and coming generations bleak. Our request to you is to make arrangements for their representation in every department of your government in proportion to their population. Do not allow your governments to make excuses of inefficiency or incapability. If they were not capable, how were they able to qualify in written examinations but shunted out in interviews. Allot lands for their educational institutions in every district. Remove illegal occupations from the properties of their Waqfs and restore their properties to them. Then you can see how soon they will be able to remove their backwardness and play an important role in the progress and building of the nation. If you got all these things implemented the Congressmen who had deserted it due to its faithlessness will take it to its former exalted position.
Siraj Paracha is a former chairman of the Delhi Waqf Board (translated from Urdu)

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