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

Muslims & Elections

MG (March 16-31) contains three articles on the Muslim political stand as follows: 1. Br.Syed Shahabuddin's " How and Why the BJP is Wooing Muslims"; 2. Br I.K Shukla's : " Hard Choices For Muslim Voters"; 3. Br. Asghar Ali Engineer's "Indian Muslims and Loksabha Elections".

Syed Shahabuddin puts 13 demands to the BJP to prove its love for Muslims and commitment to secularism. Except a few of his demands which are directly related to BJP, other demands such as the Ayodhya Question, Reservation for Muslims, Non-intervention in religious matters, guaranteeing freedom of religion, sufficient seats in the Lok Sabha for Muslims, adequate Muslim representation in the Indian army, the police force, education, Govt. sector, employment are equally applicable to the Congress Party and other secular parties. 

Should we place these demands to the Congress Party or to a National Secular Alliance(NSA), will they faithfully, sincerely, conscientiously accept our demands and promise to implement them?

The bottomline of my argument is that, it is immaterial whether Rama rules Bharat or Ravana rules our nation, we will remain economically weak, educationally backward and discriminated in employment, in political power sharing and in the overall increase in the standard of living. So, are there any other options besides supporting a particular political grouping during the time of elections? I will take it up a bit later.

Br. Asghar Ali's two column article( MG, p. 16). He has written about the voting pattern of Muslims in Indian Lok Sabha elections for the past umpteen years, and declares more or less in the same vein as Br.S. Shahabuddin that we have to demand concrete results in terms of jobs and economic well being but presents no clear-cut, straightforward and uncomplicated directives and advice to the Muslim voters on how to achieve the so called concrete results.

Br. I.K.Shukla's argument is also, in a way, true. We have been duped repeatedly by secular (read soft Hindutva forces) and the hard-core nationalists. 

Muhammad Ameen, Brunei

Editor: Your anxiety and frustration are correct but you are not aware about the ground situation in this area. The divisive influences and bribes of the state and political parties are such that they don't leave any chance for Muslims to unite. For any good effort there are ten disruptive ones. They have succeeded in buying people from our community by offering sops of various kinds, have succeeded in pitting Muslims against each other on grounds of backward/forward "castes" (biradaris), maslaks and so on. Even in the south, like TN and Karnataka, Muslims are divided today. 50 years ago the situation was different even in the north but people here were traumatised because of Partition and therefore decided not to have a political party or politcal organisation exclusively for Muslims at that time. There are well-meaning people but the current challenges are more than what they can take on. 

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