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Friday, May 2, 2014

Modi and Muslims: The gulf must narrow

By Swapan Dasgupta

There are not too many certitudes in this election--the 'obvious' is invariably a post-facto discovery. However, amid all the chatter about the youth vote, the aspirational classes and the relative importance or unimportance of caste, there is near-unanimity on one count: the Muslim community, with some exceptions, will not be voting for Narendra Modi to become Prime Minister of India. 

This is unlikely to come as a surprise to anyone but the most obtuse. So strong and sustained has been the political assault on Modi since the post-Godhra riots of 2002 that an average Muslim citizen of India would understandably believe that a Modi-led India would an intolerant, even murderous, majoritarian state. In the 2004 election, for example, gory videos of the Gujarat riots were widely shown in nearly all the Muslim-dominated localities of India and helped reinforce the image of Modi as an ogre. Of course, this imagery was further bolstered by a section of the English-speaking commentariat that were blinded to the other tangible achievements of the Modi government in Gujarat. 

It is, however, a mistake to believe that the visceral antipathy of a large section of the Muslim community was to Modi alone, and didn't extend to the rest of the BJP. In recent times, Atal Behari Vajpayee has been painted as an enlightened BJP leader whose large-heatedness ensured that he was acceptable to all Indians, regardless of faith. This image certainly helped Vajpayee during his term as Prime Minister. What is curious, however, is that Vajpayee's image as an 'inclusive', pan-Indian leader never helped the BJP secure any meaningful share of the Muslim vote. In 2004, when Vajpayee was at the height of his personal popularity, he failed to secure Muslim support in the Lucknow parliamentary seat that he represented. Indeed, disaggregated data of the voting pattern in Muslim-dominated mohullas of Lucknow suggested that he was the choice of not more than 750 Muslim voters. 

The experience of many other BJP chief ministers who are presented in the media as having a 'secular' image is broadly similar. In Madhya Pradesh, the Muslims have no particular issue with Shivraj Singh Chauhan who, unlike Modi, has taken care to get himself photographed in a skull cap. Yet, nowhere has this been reflected in Muslim support for BJP in elections. Indeed, apart from Goa's Manohar Parikkar, no BJP leader has succeeded in securing the support of any non-Sikh minority. 

An understanding of what Jaswant Singh once described to me as the "etymological block" facing the BJP is important in view of the contrived assertion by the pundits that Modi has deprived the BJP of any Muslim and, indeed, has ensured aggressive anti-BJP voting by Muslims. In a sense, this flaunting of the BJP's lack of Muslim support is turning out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The media, in particular, has made a fetish of reducing constituency and regional assessments of the electoral battles to the simple question: which way are the Muslims voting? Predictably, the answers prop up the belief that the BJP is an anti-secular force.   

That the BJP is unlikely to emerge from the 2014 general election with any worthwhile Muslim support is obvious. However, acknowledging the obvious is one thing. To extrapolate from this gap in the BJP's social profile that the 2014 election has been communalised is quite another matter altogether. What is striking about this election is not so much that historical faultlines have been re-exposed but that Muslims are viewing the contest in a very different way from their neighbours, most of whom happen to be Hindus. 

For most Indians, this election is about the future of themselves, their family, their community and India. There is an expasperation with the non-performance of the UPA, its inability to tap India's potential, its scams and its economic mismanagement. The election is also about the quality of leadership needed to bring about the transformation of the country and a yearning for decisiveness, especially when contrasted with the lacklustre style of the incumbent. In this battle, Modi has emerged as the centrepiece of the drama, with politicians taking sides in his favour or in opposition.  

The Muslim perspective of these elections seem a little different. It is not that the community has been insulated from the economic turbulence India has witnessed. But some of these bread and butter concerns have been overshadowed by a parallel concern for security, especially in the wake of the riots in Kokrajhar and Muzaffarnagar. The BJP didn't trigger these riots and nor did they happen in states where the BJP is in power. On the contrary, much of the anger was directed at the governments of Tarun Gogoi and Akhilesh Yadav for their failure to protect lives and property. The irony is that this sense of insecurity was deftly manipulated by secularist community leaders into a fear of a Modi government. This deflection of real anger could well explain why the Muslim perception of this election is different from that of the rest. This despite Modi carefully steering his campaign away from identity issues and even extending his hand of cooperation to the Muslim community.

In electoral terms, this election may demonstrate that Muslim voters don't exercise a final veto. However, for the future, the next Prime Minister has to ensure that this emotional gulf is narrowed, if not totally bridged. Otherwise India could well encounter needless roadblocks when it comes to governance. 

Asian Age, May 2, 2014


Anonymous said...

Very well said. I completely agree to your view points. Nicely jotted.

Kalyan Deb said...

Are there any "Indian Muslims"? Are they not "Muslims in India"? By virtue of there being Muslims (e.g. Sunny, Shia, Ahmadia, Sufi, Moderate, Enlightened, Fanatic, Staunch, Devout and what not)they are a class of their own,and irrespective of wherever they are they do not belong to the soil unless they adulterate it with their own beliefs, a fact that cannot be safely ignored!

Anonymous said...

Muslims have dug own grave by keeping themselves aligned to a ghettoistic mentality and aloof from mainstream. Now Hindu polarisation is complete and homogenous.The caste creed race division among Hindus are past now.Now all Hindus are one and asserted themselves as Hindus first.If it reflects in votes now,then future of Muslims in India is highly dark and perilous. They cant remain under a sense of insecurity suspicion and ostracised by a majority Hindus.Now onwards Muslism will feel the pinch of their arrogance and over confidence.In 1947 India was partitioned but 2014 will show them their roads to Pakistan.It is not Modi or any one else but Muslims themselves committed suicide.We hindu have tried our best but remained in their cocoons and didnot assimilated themselves in mainstarem by their hatred towards Hindus.Now onwards no Muslims willget any facilities from Hinds as division & alienation is complete.

Anonymous said...

Modi doing a favour to the non-muslins by " even his hand of cooperation to the Muslim community"?? The fact that this stand arises is a shame in a diverse country like ours! And sorry, the media didn't look at the bridges Modi constructed over rivers of blood in his state. Should have ignored the continued marginalisation of a chunk of population.

Amit Manuviraj said...

You made a pretty good point that the Muslim community no longer holds a veto as to who will form the next government. I think that no one community should hold a veto in this regard. If even after a decade of economic mismanagement, the Muslims are still enamored of the UPA regime, then this country is really going down the tube.

Anonymous said...

I have often mentioned Hinduism is Great. But hindus necessarily are not.

Why are we still caught in the same time warp of 1947?

A lot has changed. As a Hindu I am most scared of hindus. Not of muslims. The clarity gets muddled when we rewind and think of Aurangazeb etc. All long dead past.

Similarly when I use the word Hindu I set high standards thinking of Kaanchi MaHaPeriyavar,
Ramana Bhagavan and many such SAGES.

Among contemporary hindus who form the votebank of Modi and BJP I seldom across such people.

Modi might have brought "development" and some Muslims of Gujarat might be willing to vote for him. But Modi is no noble messiah as the media has been conning naive hindus like me.

That Modi and hindus of India are still continuing to slot Muslims in sharp relief from hindus only betrays hindus have not got the ONENESS of all beings. Plus I do not find any special laudable traits in bjp to desire its victory. It has nominated hemamalini. And Modi has been busy meeting rajnikanths blah blah.

I am afraid Modi is cleverly managing to keep his spite towards Muslims and the West(read America) under tight leash. If voted to power would prove a fascist dictator.

A lot of hindus including mulish NRIs have this tendency to blame AMERICA for their own ills. Hence are forever in the business of flexing their muscles and twirling their moustaches with a we will teach America a lesson bellicosity. It manifested itself when Devyani Khobragade was deservedly arrested. Modi also belched fire and brimstone at AMERICA. On the one hand claims to be incorruptible; then why not applaud AMERICA for having cracked down on Devyani Khobragade who did violate rules right within India in Adarsh scam.

AMERICA has long woken up to the lack of gravitas among Indians NRIs included. India's Infosys Narayana Murthys and several fraudulent Indians have wrecked American economy. Which Indian narcissistic media does not report.

ARABS also have woken up to the fact there is nothing special/ great about Indians. Without persecuting anyone ARABS have long ensured FAIR governance , good infrastructure and I have really come to like them a lot. They are FAR FAR superior to good for nothing Indians. Their Police are not corrupt like Indian Police. Malls , water supply and electricity are already a GIVEN in Arab countries.

Ambanis have nothing new to offer save the same fast food chain of restaurants a desi imitation of Kentucky fried chicken, alcohol , forays into film production , oil monopoly. Basically Indian corporates are avaricious who want to monopolize and thumb their noses at America. India as a nation has got habituated to fulminating at Pakistan and China too.

Anonymous said...

Why blame Congress for state of economy and scams?

It is people of India who have long voted for cricket as their religion and useless movies as money making ventures. Most Indian movies are plagiarizations of Hollywood and many foreign movies. It is the same people including BJP that approved of Sethusamudram project of tr.balus and dmk. Corruption has been all pervasive among Indians throughout. Why pick on congress then??

Congress should do away with tr.balus , weed out several debauched digvijai singhs etc from their own party and ally with Jayalalithaa. And with cordiality towards Americans (Republicans) and China govern.

Modi and anachronistic swadeshi screamings are unimpressive. I remember Ambanis made a big show of opening retail shops selling fresh vegetables blah blah. Proved to be ZILCH when compared to many such stores in ARAB countries. Indians are always more HYPE than substance.But carry themselves with atrocious arrogance and hauteur. Flanked by Ramdev Babas Modi thundered about tapping into Ayurveda , herbal blah blah , coming up with branded blah blah to become super rich blah blah.

This very profit making ARROGANT attitude is totally against the Principles of Ayurveda and Siddha
branches of Healing and Health care. They are DIVINE sciences.

Modi's hubris and swagger have no place in Hinduism.

Modi makes me puke when he refuses skullcaps from Muslims invoking "parampara" clause but hobnobbing with UTTERLY useless rajnikanths , vijais , vijaykanths , Rajnath Singhs stroking the feet of N.D.Tiwaris and fielding hemamalini and her DYNASTY.

His ITALIAN cries and Shehzade rants GRATE on my nerves. Fast hurtling towards fall from GRACE.

Rahul Gandhi is spot on when he says RSS is virulently anti women.

It is the very imperfections of Rahul Gandhi that have more appeal than modi's galling ARROGANCE and presumptuousness.

Having lived here for many years Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi and their Sonia are very much one among us. All that they need to do is FUMIGATION of congress party.

Subramaniam Swamy , Rajiv Malhotras and xenophobic swadeshis are living in an obsolete world of their own.


Anonymous said...

On the one hand we the people including CHO Ramaswamy have been decrying such deification of Jawaharlal Nehru , Indira Gandhi ( remember her time capsule burying).

BJP is much worse. Is continuing the same trend.I read schools in Rajasthan have introduced hagiographies of Vajpayee and Modi.

Art of living cult founder SSSSRavishankar hired a French to write his hagiography.

Hindus' Vedic Tradition has NOBLE SAGES and SEERS (ஆழ்வார்களும் நாயன்மார்களும்) etc. Lord Rama and Krishna. One life span is inadequate for soaking in such ennobling stories.

I find MK.Gandhi himself one big bore. Now this torture. Modi is atrociously clueless about Hindu Parampara.

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as a "Muslim". There are Shias and Sunnis and they hate each other. Plenty of Shias are already seeing that Modi and the BJP offer them real security from the continuing Wahhabi radicalization of the Sunnis in India encouraged by the Congress on "secular" grounds.

The Islamic world is in the midst of a civil war between Shias and Sunnis due to funding of Wahhabi radicalization by the Saudis since the 1960s onwards. Rather than worry about pleasing the tender sensibilities of India's Sunnis, Modi needs to have a plan to prevent the Saudis (and their Puppets the Pakistanis) from succeeding in their nefarious designs. If the Saudis were to succeed, it isn't just the Shia who will have a problem on their hands. Don't believe me? Then read this:

Anonymous said...

The issue is with abrahamic religions. Christian and muslim religions are exclusive in nature. A devout muslim can never accept idolatry nor existence of another path or way. This inherent contradiction cannot be solved

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous, what is the point you are trying to make. Rambling from Hindus to Infosys to YSA to your unalloyed love for Arabs.

Cool Guy said...

I think total non-interference in their social affairs is the best approach, as in due course they shall dispel the special citizenry attention-seeking & politically connect with the main stream. It will also make the leftist intelligentsia's fear-mongering irrelevant, which of-course even they don't buy, but go long with it for the sake of convenience.

Jitendra Desai said...

At least for minorities his "Gujarat model" post 2002 riots may come handy.better law and order with impartial police and courts are adequate measures to build Muslim confidence in the state.NDA rule under Modi's premiership will be good for Muslims, as they are likely to be freed from tokenism and to be treated as equals.Again a more than adequate measure.Muslims also will have to learn to live with a party that is oriented much more to Hindu values and Hindu way of life.Eg cow slaughter or illegal immigrants or dealing with terror suspects....

Anonymous said...

It is an indisputable FACT RSS sanghis are extremely brutish violent people.

Rahul Gandhi is ABSOLUTELY spot on when he mentions " Hindu TERRORISTS".

The hindus have this superciliousness hardwired into them that they alone are the children of God , they alone have the last word on God and their way is the only way and MUSLIMS should follow them blah blah.

They are very HOSTILE towards women. Every marriage between a muslims and a hindu is NOT love jihad. BUT it is the hindu FANATICS who label it so and KILL.

We know even marriages among hindus often end up in violent treatment of spouses. The reasons might differ-caste prejudices , dowry extortions, extra marital affairs etc. Very few marriages are normal as very few people are NORMAL and emotionally mature.

BUT hindu fanatics are hell bent on blaming MUSLIMS alone. Thus invading others' boundaries.

I recall one such BESTIAL RSS member proudly claiming in jihadwatch site that in Gujarat he and other sanghis yanked away a Hindu girl who was in love with a Muslim guy "stuffing human excreta in the mouth of that Muslim boy by tying him up ...." And this was passionately cheered by another hindu called pagandpaktitat who replied " my eyes are filled with tears knowing how you have thus saved our mother india blah blah".

I have often heard the RSS sanghis boasting how they beat up and separated a man from talking to a woman ....They are VIOLENT THUGS.

But only talk about some work they do after disasters and accidents like plane crash , train accidents etc.

Modi like Vajpayee is very much MILITANT RSS sangh parivar THUG.

Anonymous said...

Jayalalithaa was SPOT ON when she said matter of factly " bjp CANNOT be trusted".

She said this even before bjp struck up alliances with various factions in Tamil Nadu. RSS fanatics are very much Hindi imposing FANATICS too.

Jayalalithaa is one such remarkable exceptional PERSON who has a clear grasp over various issues impacting mundane lives PLUS
Spirituality , the CRUX of all religions.

Today these ill informed fanatics are rallying behind modi and taking photos of him beside Swami Vivekananda statue.

Whereas Jayalalithaa I recall in her very young age had read a lot on Hinduism , Kahlil Gibran , Holy Bible and so forth.

She is one such person who has gone through HELL subjected to betrayals, blackmailings. Her LIFE is really a painful one. And has emerged very NOBLE.Mellowed.

Certainly not this allegedly tea selling modi. Who is full of unwarranted malice and vindictive streak.

Vishal Patel said...

Nice analysis..Responsibility lies on both sides to narrow gap.. Let us work on positive sides & prioritize development & governance

Anonymous said...

Aye The Anonymous has had lot to say though ! Tried to show the causes and mind sat of the Muslims as at present .
But not all Muslims are the same though. We have Staunch Fanatical Hindus and also of many other religion who do not subscribe to the view points expressed .By and large looks like easy conclusion.The fear of Life which is but the only one when one is Born ? what else can they do ? Find the classifications of the Muslims quite interesting.
That the Muslims have become Stagnant is the proof Bar the only few. Hope these will improve with time when they will be more forward in their outlook and in their belief that Modiji would at one go, going to swallow all THE MUSLIMS . Thanks .Regards

Anonymous said...

Are the muslim only minority in this country.sikhs jains chiristians are not minorities in india but why only muslim are scared of modi.if they are scared they are only to blame for this.they just dont wants mix with others.there has been no reforms in the muslims.their religious leader always take them in wrong direction.this is the reason today more muslims are killed at the hand of pakistan afganistan dozens are killed everyday at the hand of syria iraq lebnan egypt everywhere is the same story muslims are killing muslims.
what is the contribution of muslims in science and techonology.i dont find a single muslim who has won any award for any major research.why there is no muslim country which has any space programme.saudi arab is a very rich country but i dont think they spent any thing on research.from car to plane from mobile to internet medical science.muslims enjoy benefit of all these scintific advances but their contribution is almost nil.

Asokan Ponnusamy said...

There is an ingrained strain in most Muslims that all Hindu enthusiasts are anti them. They forget they are enthusiastic about their religion too. Enthusiasm to fanaticism is but a short distance. Problem lies with maulivis and Pakistan

Asokan Ponnusamy said...

Muslims have long ago started thinking that all Hindus are anti-Islam. Hindus are convinced all Muslims are extremists of different hues, terrorists forming a majority. Can Modi help? He certainly can. Soon after he takes over, he should make ti clear that Muslims are as much citizens of this country as Hindus. he should reassure publicly on television that his goons will be dished out punishments they would remember for a long time.
The question is, will he do it or will he shame Tiananmen Square?

Md. Ariful Hoque said...

One can look at the communal harmony prevailing in Bangladesh. Religion never played any dividing role in this country.The legacy continues for thousand of years with unbroken realtions. I myself was taught by hindu teachers which i am very proud of. religion is for the human cohesion not otherwise. We should uphold those views.

Anonymous said...

Rightly said. It is not only a shia problem. It is a global problem. Let us see how the Modi govt. deals with the Saudis on this matter. They are the source of terrorist activities in India.