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Published in the 16-30 Apr 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

BJP must be weakened

Like other enlightened sections of citizens of the country large sections of Muslims would like the BJP not to emerge as a strong ruling party in the country, for the simple reason that it still affirms that its inspirational ideology is that of RSS-VHP brand of Hindutva, which not only denies right to equality and distinct identity to minorities but demonises Muslims and Islam, providing justification for their discriminatory exclusionary treatment and periodic violence against them.

Given the fact that other political parties outside NDA coalition have failed to forge a pre-poll alternative secular democratic alliance, Muslims along with other sections of citizens committed to secular democracy, rule of law and human rights, must devise a strategy to effectively influence the course of election in constituencies where their votes are sizable.

Apart from efforts that may be underway to realize the objective of getting good number of genuine representatives of the community elected, there is a need for coordination of Muslim political, social and biradari forums to ensure at the level of constituency that community votes do not go waste, because of internal discord and rivalry. Unity of all Muslims under one political leadership is neither feasible nor even desirable. What needs to be done is to guarantee that all those sections of Muslims who share common concerns of a vulnerable targeted religious community irrespective of their own divisions based on class, occupation, sect, and denomination support a common candidate in a given constituency. The choice of candidates may be guided by the following :

a)The moral conduct and qualities of leadership of the candidate as a responsible publicist and his/her antecedents.

b)The record of the political party vis--vis Muslims and other minorities.

c)The chances of winning of the candidate, in case Muslims extend support to him/her.

d)Agreement with him/her over Muslim related issues; including constituency-specific socio-economic issues of deprived and backward sections of the community.

In this regard apart from supporting parties outside NDA coalition, certain allies of the BJP in NDA may not be necessarily excluded, just to register protest against NDA government.

These guidelines are provided under the consideration that irrespective of whichever coalition constitutes the ruling alliance after elections, it should not have a strong BJP as partner. If at all the NDA emerges victorious, it should have a weakened BJP as partner and other parties of the ruling Alliance should continue to have their stakes in minority support.

The choice of candidates and parties should therefore be made at the level of constituency.

The Congress and its alliance partners, wherever they have formed such alliance, should be one of the options for Muslims, but not the only option.
The primary objective of weakening of the ideology of hate and revenge should not be done in a manner that may give rise to Hindu-Muslim polarization. Muslim sections actively pursuing this goal will be well advised to use the terminology of human rights, rule of law and secular democracy, instead of those of faith community and religious identity which will in any case get due protection under human rights norms, without obtrusively projecting them during electioneering.

To effectively achieve the objectives, the Muslim political groups and social and biradari forums may consider constituting a Coordination Committee to help them in rationalizing and harmonizing their efforts.

In addition to such intra-community coordination, attempt should also be made wherever possible, to develop electoral understanding with other vulnerable and threatened groups like Christians, Dalits and tribal communities so that the objective of preserving multi-cultural Indian State and inclusive democracy, where all groups may enjoy freedom, dignity and equality, can be realized.
Iqbal A. Ansari

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