Muslims “scared” of “Modi-government?”

By the time this piece gets published, suspense over electoral results will probably be over. And it shall be clear, whether India is headed for a BJP-led government run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi or not.

Political suspense, linked with this mega-electoral drama, however will not end with the formation of the new government. Speculations and “reports,” ahead of the final declaration of results have raised question marks on the credibility of these analyses.

There is no denying that as May 16 is coming closer, assumptions about a political wave favouring BJP led by Modi are gaining ground. At the same time, greater media space is being devoted to the reaction of Indian Muslims to the possibility of Modi being in charge of the next government. The focus is on their being “scared” of a Modi-government.

Interestingly, non-Muslims appear to have deliberated more on such “fear” among Muslims than Muslims themselves. Understandably, they may have voiced their concern on this aspect because of their secular inclinations, anti-BJP attitude, memories of Gujarat-carnage, fear of Sangh Parivar’s anti-Muslim communal intentions becoming louder and more pronounced because of Modi’s success and similar other factors.

Yet, shouldn’t the focus been a little different? Yes, rather than deliberate on the possibility of Muslims being “scared” under a Modi-government, shouldn’t they have given greater importance to their being no need of Muslims feeling “scared” even if Modi takes over as the next prime minister?

After all, why should Muslims be scared of Modi heading the next government? Why should so much hype be created about their being fear among them under a Modi government?

Certainly, Modi cannot be forgiven for his role during Gujarat-carnage. Yes, there is a strong possibility of Sangh Parivar extremists becoming more communal towards Muslims and also Christians. But, does this imply that all those in Union government, including the prime minister and his cabinet colleagues are above law. It cannot be forgotten that had Gujarat-carnage (2002) not taken place, BJP-led NDA may not have been pushed out of power in 2004 Lok Sabha elections. If BJP gets chance again at the Centre, it cannot afford to let communal politicking ruin its political image and also political future.

In this context, BJP and its saffron brigade associates need to be more cautious than ever before in not offending secular Indians and Indian Muslims.

If BJP fails to form the next government despite all the hype raised about a Modi-wave and if Modi does not succeed in assuming office as the next prime minister, the party has a long way to go in convincing the Indian electorate about its secular credentials. It would be faced with the same task even if it succeeds. It cannot afford to let its communal record tarnish its secular mask. The party may have only donned the secular mask for the sake of electoral campaigning. But political success will compel it to retain this secular mask and also use it to attract support of minorities, particularly Muslims.

Whether success eludes Modi and BJP or whether it helps them assume power, either way, they have to start giving greater and more genuine importance to their secular pretentions.

Political history is witness to the fact that communal cards can help BJP only to a point. Thanks to strides made by communication technology, these don’t remain hidden from the public eye for too long. And once exposed, the same communal cards can prove politically damaging for BJP. Howsoever communal and anti-Muslim Modi may be, he cannot afford to let this image of his ruin his political future.

So, whatever be the May 16 results, Modi has to start presenting a better and more secular face towards Indian Muslims.

Against this backdrop, why should a scare be created among Indian Muslims regarding what would happen to them if Modi-government takes over? Even if Modi and his supporters care little about secularism, why should Indian Muslims feel scared of them being in power -- “What are they going to do? Is targeting Indian Muslims going to be their prior motive? Do we expect them to come and push us out of our houses and harm us? Yes, Gujarat-carnage haunts us all with far more brutal and horrendous images. Yet, let us also remember, Gujarat is not India.”

Yes, in essence, the common Indian Muslims seems hardly bothered about the Modi-wave. Despite “news” being spread about their being “scared” of a Modi-government, in reality this is not the general picture. “Why should I or other Muslims be scared? If he takes over, are he and his supporters going to target me? They cannot afford to,” is the common reaction. “Let him assume charge, if numbers allow him to. My life is not going to be affected by it.”

What an irony. Even before the impact of the Modi-wave on electoral results has been realised, reports are floating about a Modi-scare, that too among Indian Muslims. Irrespective of what his distance from power is, Modi and his party need to give some importance to asserting that these reports are baseless!  

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2014 on page no. 11

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