Muslim unity is the only guarantee for
proportionate share in administration
Due share of non-Ashraf, both in Legislatures and Administration, only if and when Muslim unity wins the battle for social justice says
Syed Shahabuddin in reply to Ashfaq Husain Ansari
By Syed Shahabuddin
Mr. Ashfaq Husain Ansari
November) questions the very concept of ‘Muslim community’, although it faces a common situation and despite all its internal divisions by sect or baradari presents a common target for the forces hostile to its very existence in the country and, therefore, shares a common destiny. All over the world religious minorities face political under-representation, economic disparity and social injustice. Class cleavage, sectarian differentiation and social divisions also plague them. But both national and international law offer solutions, howsoever partial and inadequate, for a religious minority to get its due, as a whole, as a collectivity. But nothing can help it if it (or its sub-group) remains perpetually and irreconcilably divided. As a minority group, it is in the interest of the Muslim community to stand together to face the situation and to make united demands on the system within the constitutional framework for their share of the national cake. It is simple logic that while a majority group which commands more than 80% of the population can afford divisions, no minority group can afford even disunity because disunity will weaken it to the point that it cannot defend its legitimate rights or pursue its demands effectively and its chances of success will become slim.
|The basic flaw in Mr. Ansari’s resisting is his deliberate confusion between two distinct fields of public employment and representation in legislature. No community or sub-community, except SC and ST, enjoys reservation in
legislatures, not even the OBC’s. Muslims, as a community, were granted
reservation in the first draft of the Constitution in 1948...
I do not know why Mr. Ansari is ever anxious to underline and emphasize the cleavages in the Muslim community. My presumption is that he wishes to secure the best possible deal for the Bunkar baradari, rather for the elite of the baradari who began to style themselves as ‘Momins’ (as if all other Muslims were not Momin) and as Ansaris as if they were all the descendants of the Ansars of Madina! But he forgets that whatever appellation they may have, they cannot fight their battle by themselves. He should also remember that hostile forces are always seeking topromote divisions and, therefore, may even extend support to him. But should he sing to their tune?
Mr. Ansari also emphasizes the place of Ansaris and other Muslim sub-community in the OBC Lists. My basic question to him was and is that having forsaken the principle of Muslim solidarity, why does he try to create a sub-category ‘Muslim OBCs within the OBC’s? He does not answer it and he is angry with me for touching his raw nerve. But to my mind, his only anxiety is to install the Ansaris as the leader of all Muslim OBC’s i.e. all Muslims other than the so-called Ashraf and thus increase the Ansari share at the cost of all other Muslim
|I do not mind if the entire Muslim quota in
government service (or in legislatures), when it comes, goes to Ansaris or to a combination of Muslim non-Ashraf, so long as they are articulate and effective, not creations and
hangers-on and darbaris of the powers that be or collaboratios of hostile forces.
The OBC’s, the SCs and the STs are all constitutional constructs and artificial aggregates which, I prophesy, will not stand the test of time. The SC’s, ST’s and the OBC’s are already cracking up in various States e.g. in Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand. Even the Supreme Court cannot keep them intact against eventual explosion. Relatively advanced OBC’s are facing the demands of the MBC’s, the really backward Shudras, who have been bracketed with the former and, therefore, remain deprived although they form 2/3 of the OBC’s in UP and Bihar. And their demand will become more persistent and louder as they advance educationally and politically and find themselves defrauded of their rightful share. This process always follows a natural and logical trajectory and does not need a Shahabuddin or the deprived sub-castes to create and promote it. Otherwise, why were the SC’s and the ST’s separated from the whole, to begin with? Then, why did the OBC’s demand and get their separate share? This fission will continue till the problem of critical size stops it or till every group and sub-group which is identifiable and self-conscious gets its due.
The champions of the so-called Dalit Muslims want them to separate from the OBC’s and join the SC’s. I do not understand their reason or logic and I have explained, in many articles and statements, how the Dalit Muslims are not likely to fare any better as a part of the SC’s, even if they achieve the transition. But that is not the basic issue between myself and Mr.
Mr. Ansari has no statistics to offer about the actual share of Ansaris (Momins) in public employment out of the OBC quota shared by the Ansaris in the country as a whole or even in UP or Bihar. Mandal’s hypothetical quota for Muslim OBC’s out of the OBC quota of 27% was 4.2%. Assuming that the Ansaris form 60% of Muslim OBC’s, their share would be 2.5%. I have no statistics but I suggest, subject to availability of data, that their share is higher than 2.5%. In Bihar, the Ansaris have long enjoyed preference in admission to professional courses, perhaps also in UP, and in grant of educational facilities. I do not mind it at all because at least one section of the Muslim community has advanced educationally and prospered and entered the administration. I have always maintained that presence of one Muslim, whatever his sect or baradari, in a Thana or in an office changes the ambience, dilutes the communal pattern of behaviour and facilitates Muslim public in dealing with it.
But Mr. Ansari goes off at a tangent and instead of government employment, pours out his heart on the under-representation of the Muslim OBC’s in the legislatures. I have some statistics about Lok Sabha. There are about 11 Constituencies with a Muslim majority and about 35 with a high concentration of Muslims of the order of above 25%. A Muslim candidate on the ticket of an established political party which commands the votes of a section of Hindus can and does win. But assuming he was identified not as a Muslim but as a Syed or as an Ansari, he has very little chance to win, even in Muslim majority constituencies. No party will project him as such or even field him, if he was looked upon as a representative of only a section of the minority.
But my question to Mr. Ansari is: please tell me the names of ‘Muslim’ constituencies where the Ansaris constitute the majority of the Muslim voters, or at least 25% of the electorate? We have been advising secular political parties to field Muslim candidate from Muslim- winnable constituencies in order to raise Muslim representation. And we have also always advised them that in view of the growing cleavages in the Muslim community, they should field an Ansari Muslim in these Muslim concentration constituencies, and so on, if the Ansaris form the biggest Muslim sub-community. But can he win, if he chooses to divide the Muslim electorate along Baradari lines? However, if a Ansari candidate indeed commands the confidence of the Muslim community as a whole, he not only deserves the ticket but also deserves to win. Of course, he can win if the non-Muslim supporters of the party which has fielded him find him acceptable.
Political leadership is generally monopolized by the elite. But elite formation is a historical process. There is no sudden beginning and no sudden cut-off in history. The composition of Muslim elite is changing and Ansaris will Insha’Allah increasingly represent the Muslim community as a whole and the non-Ashraf shall throw the so-called Ashraf in the shade, just as the Shudras are throwing the Brahmins, Rajputs and
The basic flaw in Mr. Ansari’s resisting is his deliberate confusion between two distinct fields of public employment and representation in legislature. No community or sub-community, except SC and STs, enjoys reservation in legislatures, not even the OBC’s. Muslims, as a community, were granted reservation in the first draft of the Constitution in 1948 but this was taken away in the last phase or, shall we say, bartered away for a hollow promise of generosity, yet to be fulfilled. So the space for the Muslims, specially under the FPP System, has been limited. For historical reasons, the so-called Ashraf among the Muslims have been educationally more advanced than the non-Ashraf in the community. When universal franchise came, they were recognized as the social and political leaders of the community and fielded by political parties as candidates for Parliament and Assemblies. This gap is steadily narrowing with spread of education and political awakening among the deprived groups of all communities. Indeed, this also has the effect of multiplying Muslim candidates in Muslim concentration constituencies, some of whom are undoubtedly encouraged and even financed by parties interested in dividing Muslim votes so that their non-Muslim candidates win such seats. I am sure Mr. Ansari is aware of this phenomenon.
The Mandal dispensation, or the Inder Sawhney Judgement or Venkatachalliah’s Commission observations were not about representation in legislature but about representation in public employment under Article 16.
However, what is important for a minority group is to have an effective presence both in the legislature and in administration to articulate the interests and aspirations of the group and to monitor the application of the established policies and programmes to the group.
Why does Mr. Ansari resist the idea of Muslim community as a whole being declared a Backward Class and working unitedly and more forcefully for its recognition as a separate Backward Class? He perhaps thinks that without the entry of Syeds, Shaikhs and Pathans, the Ansaris have a better share and with their entry, their share will go down. I doubt it. If the Muslim community gets to have a quota of its own with 80% weightage for their backwardness (as compared to 100% for the SC’s/ST’s), their quota at the national level would come to about 11%. If the Creamy Layer (which should be more strictly defined) is eliminated, it will affect the so-called Ashraf and surely the Ansaris and the Quraishis and the Raieen, the major Backward sub-communities among the Muslims, will have more than their share. Assuming, as I have done, the ‘non-Ashraf’ constitute 75% of the Muslim population, they would get, on the whole 75% of 11% about 8% of the total. Is this more or less than their share under Mandal dispensation?
I do not mind if the entire Muslim quota in government service (or in legislatures), when it comes, goes to Ansaris or to a combination of Muslim non-Ashraf, so long as they are articulate and effective, not creations and hangers-on and darbaris of the powers that be or collaboratios of hostile forces. In fact I have proposed and it is on record that in reservation for government jobs, the entire Muslim quota should go to the Muslim sub-communities, notified as OBCs, for candidates with minimum qualification and the ‘Ashraf’ candidates should be admitted in order of merit, if and only if the quota is underutilized. Does it show partiality for the so-called
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