Indian Muslim Politics: Time to think out of the box

Political parties have sidelined their Muslim supporters as they have started to believe that they would either get Muslims’ support even after disrespecting them or that they can now manage to win at the hustings even without Muslim support, says Muhammad Adeeb in his letter to important Muslim personalities.

Friends, Assalam Alaikum!

The present time is the worst in our nation’s history after independence. In fact, it is more than worst for we Muslims are passing through a most difficult phase since the bloody events of Partition. Darkness, suffocation and uncertainty are prevalent all-over. Beyond all sorts of practical difficulties, all so-called secular political parties have very shrewdly isolated Muslims. Now, it seems that the Muslim community committed a great mistake by supporting the “secular” political parties with all their might and resources. They massively supported Samajwadi Party in U.P. and helped it reach the throne in Lucknow. Then, they extended consolidated support to the secular united front (JD(U) and RJD) in Bihar helping it to occupy the seat of power in Patna. They even supported Mamta Banerjee overwhelmingly and paved the way for her return to the helm.

The recent Rajya Sabha elections in various states should have opened our eyes. Not even a single “secular” political party in U.P. and Bihar has bothered to nominate even one Muslim leader for the biennial elections to the Upper House. Perhaps, they have taken it for granted that Muslims have no other option except to support one of them. On the other hand, in Assam the grand Congress Party decided to ignore the AIUDF and thus allowed the BJP and its allies to effortlessly win the elections. Had the Congress leadership been wise enough to see reason, the BJP’s dream of snatching power in that state could never be fulfilled.

The harsh truth is that we Muslims have become a liability for all “secular” parties. We have no political weightage in their eyes. Ironically, now they seem to be looking for a pretext or ploy to get rid of Muslim leaders in their ranks. The reason is obvious and simple: our so-called vote bank is a myth. No Muslim voter is behind the Muslim leaders. They always prefer to be stupidly divided among non-BJP parties, losing their political value and wasting their votes. Once divided, they indirectly help BJP win alone. And, as I said above, if they support any (secular) party en bloc, they make it win, but, the winning party or parties kick them back immediately after elections. This attitude is evident everywhere, in general, and in U.P. and Bihar, in particular.

Today, we are in hot waters. We are in a peculiar situation where we have lost everything – our honour, prestige, political weightage, wealth and property – and now even our very existence is at stake. Let’s refresh our brains and open our eyes, otherwise doom is going to be our only fate. This is high time when we have to ponder over the prevailing state of affairs in the country and take some down-to-earth, realistic and practical, though hard, decisions.

Very painfully but enthusiastically, I call all Muslim leaders, be they political or religious, all Muslim organisations, be they political, social or religious, all minority parties, all Muslim leaders in the ranks of different political parties and in fact, the Muslim leadership as a whole, to come to one platform, single-mindedly, with a one-point programme to teach a lesson to all the so-called secular parties and prove their potentiality. Do you not feel pinched that they win elections on our strength, enjoy the luxury of power and discard us when they allot ministries and make nominations for elections to upper chambers at the Centre and in various states? They even ignore their own stalwarts for the only sin that they happen to be Muslims.

Now, no political party or its head is trustworthy. They have already sidelined their Muslim supporters as they have started to believe that they would either get Muslims’ support even after disrespecting them or that they can now manage to win at the hustings even without Muslim support. I do not know what is their logic or basis for such an unwise and impractical thinking. Perhaps they have assured themselves that Muslims in India have no way to escape from their camps. Willy-nilly, they have to support one of them in the given conditions. They are sure of using the threat of BJP to force Muslims to support them to keep the rightist party at bay. This threat has worked on many an occasion. In fact, this is the only weapon in the hands of the so-called secular leaders to make fool of Muslims, again and again. But, let’s realise and boldly declare that we alone took the responsibility of defeating BJP but now we are no more ready to become tools in the hands of various secular leaderships for realising their dreams at our cost.

Today, we are on the crossroad and we have to take immediate decisions in order to come out of the impasse and dilemma facing us. Ironically, we no longer have leaders like Mohammad Ali Jauhar and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to rally around. Hence, we have to go for a collective leadership. We may easily come together on the basis of a Common Minimum Programme and raise a united voice from a single platform. But for that we have to rise above all sectoral and factional differences and individual hostilities.

I think it is not that difficult. When political parties from rival camps can come together to create fronts on the basis of a Common Minimum Agenda with the sole aim of wresting power and such systems have worked in many cases at the Centre and in states, then why not we too, with an aim to defend ourselves, come together on one platform to make a United Front. You may call it a Federation, Consortium or simply an Consultative Body (Majlis-e-Shoora) but it should be highly powered to uniformly take harsh decisions during critical hours.

In this context, very humbly and modestly, I wish to offer a proposal for a united front of Muslim Leadership. In my view, we should extend an open invitation to all Muslim organisations -- political, social, cultural and religious -- and Muslim leaders in various political parties and also tall Muslim individuals who are  power centres in their our right. We can also awaken those few Muslim leaders who are in wilderness now but they have their own positivity. 

Further, we can invite Muslim intellectuals and legal experts for their precious opinion. All of them should gather at one place for high level consultations. In such a conclave, all those present would be treated as equals, everyone would be heard and his or her view honoured. All decisions would be taken unanimously. Only then, we can go to the Muslim masses to seek their support.

In order to convince common Muslims, the decisions taken by such an esteemed convention would be publicised widely. For this purpose, we would have to organise public meetings with a cordial and open invitation to all Muslims and all like-minded people at Delhi, Lucknow and in all districts, first in U.P. and later in other states.

Let’s make our motive clear. We are not going to oblige any political party. We are not supposed to follow anyone of them, faithfully and blindly. We shall simply demand our share in power on the basis of our numbers and strength. We would no more be mere supporters but share-holders. And for that we have to mobilise all Muslim voters. Once, they come behind us, we shall be in a position to make a deal with any political party. I tell you, it’s not a mere dream. Once united, we shall be in a position to shake all political powers. Then, they would have to come to terms and talk to us for a respectable settlement. And that would indeed be an achievement.

May be some of our friends in the ranks of different political parties, though neglected themselves, would raise their eyebrows and may dislike our approach, but we have to take such things in our stride and keep on making consistent efforts to reach our goal.

I am a humble servant of my community. I have always raised my voice on all issues related to Muslims in Parliament and outside, articulating them without any fear or compromise. And for that I have suffered a lot, which is well known. Here, I take liberty to make it crystal clear that I have no political ambition or lust for power. I have already spent fifty years of my life in politics. If at this later stage of my life, the Almighty bestows me with an opportunity to serve my community, in any manner, I shall feel proud in doing my best. I am totally committed to the welfare of my Muslim brethren and sisters. My entire political career has been an open book to prove my sincerity.

I am a humble soul like all others. I feel pain for all the shocks and hardships Muslims face, as you all do. Now, this is my privilege that I am placing these suggestions before you all. In my view, if we Muslims have to exist with pride and honour in this country we have to emerge as a consolidated vote-block and should be all capable of transferring votes. That’s the only solution in the prevailing circumstances. Otherwise, no one can save us from the disaster staring us in the face.

If my modest suggestions have an appeal for you, in any manner, please let me know of your opinion and enrich me with your advice, so that I can gain strength to go ahead. I have a few friends with me. With your blessings, we plan to organise a meeting of Muslim elders, leaders, scholars and intellectuals, either in Delhi or in Lucknow. After a successful elite conference, we would follow public meetings at a wide scale.

Today, we are fighting for our survival.We have to see  reason and accept reality, discarding whims, fancies and egos. That’s the call of the hour. The destination is not far away. What is required is to move forward and go ahead.

With best regards.

Mohammad Adeeb, ex-MP