Analysis

Manufacturing “News:” To Win Muslims?

Notwithstanding all the coverage given to the criticism voiced by several Congress leaders regarding extremists/terrorists associated with the saffron brigade, it is difficult to accept the same without raising a few questions. Of course, there is no denying that as expressed by Digvijay Singh and Rahul Gandhi, the saffron brigade and groups linked with it pose a great danger to Indian secularism and a severe threat to minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians. But isn’t this a hard reality that majority of Indians are well aware of? There is nothing new in such views being expressed by these and a few other Congress leaders. Having faced the same for a quite a long period in varying proportions, from being physically targeted, abused, discriminated against in many ways, Muslims have learnt nothing new with some leaks and/or announcements projecting the awareness of a few Congress leaders about these matters. It is not just old, but almost dead “news” for Muslims in today’s era.

“Dead” as even the political wing of the saffron brigade has apparently come to terms with the reality that they can no longer afford to target and/or even alienate the Muslim vote-bank. Rather, as indicated by the recently held Bihar assembly elections, the Muslim vote bears as much importance for the saffron brigade as for other parties in the fray. In other words, the saffron brigade politicians have accepted the reality that they can no longer afford to ignore the political significance held by the Muslim voters for them and for their allies. Had the same group continued lashing in communal tones at the Indian Muslim minority to turn the majority Hindu votes on their side, the situation would have been different. The political noise then made by Congress leaders against the Saffron brigade’s terrorist and/or extremist designs would certainly have been politically more relevant as well as appropriate.

Paradoxically, though, there is no denying that these Congress leaders are simply stating a known politico-social truth by holding extremists/terrorists linked with saffron brigade as a great threat, its relevance is apparently fairly limited, even constrained. The relevance has been confined to securing them some media coverage, invite a little criticism from the targeted groups and excite some political noise. That’s it and no more. It has till date not enhanced the political importance of these Congress leaders in other circles, except that of their own supporters.

The simple reality is that howsoever loudly and/or frequently the Congress leaders blame the saffron brigade for communalism, extremism and/or terrorism, this carries little political weight. Though some credit must be given to those responsible for not hesitating in taking legal action against Hindu extremists responsible for several terrorism-cases, the fact that they have taken over two years to reach even this stage cannot be missed. Equally important is the fact that several Muslims were earlier blamed for these very incidents and are still in jails. Now, has anybody raised voice over taking action against those who wrongly held innocent people, suspecting them apparently only because of their religious identity? Has any compensation been made to the persons wrongly accused/jailed earlier of being terrorists? Also, has serious consideration been given to banning the organizations with which the extremists, held recently responsible for the terrorist activities, are associated with?

Simply criticizing terrorists and/or extremists, irrespective of which group they belong to, carries little political appeal. Its significance is, at the most, limited to securing some media coverage and exciting little political fervour in certain circles. This impact bears little importance in the long run from two angles. It plays virtually no role in restricting the organizations responsible for encouraging such extremist/terrorist elements. It carries little appeal for the Muslims, whose political support is apparently sought to be won by making such noise against the saffron brigade. In essence, till serious action is taken against the very groups being strongly criticized by Congress leaders, the worth of whatever has been said by them may be viewed as nothing more than hollow rhetoric.With all media space and political support at their command, by indulging in sheer rhetoric against extremists linked with the saffron brigade, Congress leaders can at best succeed in only manufacturing some “news.” There is yet another angle to this political scenario which cannot be ignored. The Indian Muslim today has become increasingly conscious of his/her distinct identity and role as well as place in the society. He/she is more assertive and ambitious to carve out his/her path without having to fall back on any select political group or leader. Not surprisingly, political rhetoric raised against the saffron brigade extremists to apparently display support and/or sympathy for the Indian Muslim carry little appeal for the latter. Today’s Indian Muslim can no longer be viewed as simply an aggrieved person and/or one who has been pushed into a corner, without sufficient space to move ahead. The Indian society is moving ahead and so is the Muslim with “dead” or “manufactured” news bearing no importance for both!

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2011 on page no. 14

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