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2002: Indian Muslim
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Premature Election Reflects BJP's
Strategy to Disenfranchise and Degrade Muslims
No Free and Fair Election Possible in Communalised Environment
AIMMM Proposes President's Rule and Deferment of Election
New Delhi, 23 July, 2002: Shri Syed Shahabuddin, President of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat
(AIMMM), has issued the following Statement:
"On the question of the fixation of date for Assembly election in Gujarat the Constitutional Provision are clear: the Chief Minister has the 'authority' to seek dissolution and force premature election; the E.C. alone has the power to decide the date of the next election, free of pressure from any quarter; the election should normally be held within 6 months of the date of dissolution (not the date of the last Session) i.e. by early January, 2003 but it may be deferred further, if the situation so demands.
Since the election was due only in February/March, 2002 and Chief Minister Narendra Modi had not been defeated or was not facing a defeat in the Assembly, the real question is related to his motive and purpose in seeking dissolution and the Governor dissolving it on his advice, within minutes.
If it was to prove that despite all the criticism he had faced since 28 February he enjoyed the confidence of the majority of the people, it is obvious that his motive is malafide and the BJP's purpose is political. Having engineering a massacre and created a Hindu vote bank, and has having emerged as the hero of Hindu extremists, Shri Modi is anxious to benefit from the wave of communal polarization, before it peters out with the return of normalcy, social peace and inter-communal reconciliation.
The BJP indeed admits that its major plank is going to be Modi's record but once normalcy returns, people will ask questions about the overall performance of the BJP government and the anti-incumbency factor will take over. Thus the premature dissolution cuts at the very roots of the democratic and secular order.
Secondly, it is not a question of the number of people still in the relief camps or the number of people killed/missing or the quantum of compensation paid to the victims. The real question is the overall social environment in Gujarat which stands so communally vitiated that the Muslims may not have the courage to withstand the pressure of the
BJP, supported by the Sangh Parivar, stand as candidates or even exercise their franchise. The BJP's appeal to democratic norms is blatantly cynical; its aim is to further demoralise the Muslim community which already stands physically shattered.
The third and the biggest question that Gujarat raises for the future of the Indian democracy relates to the representation of Muslim Gujaratis in the legislature. Cross-voting across the communal barrier may be scarce in the state of communal polarization, thus reducing the possibility of Muslim candidates being elected, even if the secular parties put them up. As it is, Gujarat has a very poor record of Muslim representation. Muslims constitute nearly 10% of the population and should normally throw up 17-18 MLA's. But the highest in recent years has been 4. So elections at this stage will be a virtual disenfranchisement of the Muslim community, as a victim of exclusivist and majoritarian politics. Normalcy cannot be restored and the confidence and trust of the Muslims cannot be regained so long as Modi is at the helm.
The AIMMM, therefore, reiterates its demand that the Central Government should place Gujarat under President's rule, appoint a Governor with a healing touch with the assistance of his Advisors and Election Commission should not fix the date until Gujarat shows signs of political health."
Sd/- Syed Shahabuddin
ALL INDIA MUSLIM
N-44, Abul Fazal Enclave, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi - 110 025
Phone: 632 6780 Fax: 632 7346
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