Is Congress really a Muslim party?
On July 12, an article got published in an Urdu daily ‘Inquilab’ according to which Congress President Rahul Gandhi at a closed door meeting with members of muslim community had quoted – “ Congress is a Muslim party”. An excerpt further read – “ If BJP says that Congress is a party of muslims, it’s fine. Congress is a party of muslims, because muslims are weak and Congress always stand with the weak”. The ruling BJP escalated this nugatory issue ( the thing that they’ve been doing since last four years ) and it reached a crescendo. Even our PM Narendra Modi at a rally in UP said that he wasn’t surprised as when Dr. Manmohan Singh was PM, he had said that Muslims have the first right over country’s natural resources. Modiji adroitly replaced the word ‘minority’ with muslims. Our PM responded very quickly to this issue who otherwise has no words of condemnation for our own External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj who was abused mercilessly on Twitter by hardcore pseudo nationalists when she suspended Passport Officer for declining the passports to an interfaith couple. He has no words to speak when his own Cabinet Minister garland men who were allegedly involved in the lynching.
The total percentage of muslims in Indian population is 14. The lack of good leadership among muslims has resulted in their exploitation in the name of religion. Congress party always claim to champion the cause of muslims. In the same way, BJP is on the other side of the turf. They claim to be the only party that could uplift and empower hindus ( who seem united like never before). The BJP’s growth is similar to that of Muslim League. The Congress is facing the same problem from BJP that it was facing from Jinnah’s Muslim league. Muslim league fanned the insecurities of muslims and insisted that they can only protect their interests. Today’s BJP’s Hindu nationalism too thrives on formenting the anxieties of Hindus. Its been over 80 years but the scenario remains the same.
In the year 1936, the elections were held in 11 provincial legislatures. Congress won clear majority in six and was single largest party in three but it contested only 56 of total 482 muslim seats under separate electorate system. The Congress won 28 of these but lost on all seats at United Provinces (now UP). In the same elections, the Muslim League won about 5% of total muslim seats all over India and won 43 out of 272 muslim seats in muslim majority areas. Congress at that time thought that this was its chance to appease muslims and get their nose in Congress’s tent as muslims didn’t show much interest in Muslim League. In the wake of this, Jawaharlal Nehru launched Muslim Mass Contact Programme. Kunwar Mohammad Ashraf was appointed to convince muslims that unity on the basis of real time economic issues was more important than unity through shared religion. The Muslim League criticised this programme and Congress for glorifying muslims like Akbar, Dara Shikoh and Khusro only because they tried to synthesise Islam with Hinduism but ignoring all their important contributions. This strategy of Congress didn’t check Muslim League’s rise and it won about 75% of all Muslim votes all over India in 1945-46 elections up from 5% in 1937. Grasping this, the Congress disbanded Muslim Mass Contact Programme. They realised that anxieties over identity cannot be overcome just through an economic agenda.
The infamous Shah Bano case is testimony to the fact that the political parties just make use of public for their own lust for power and have absolutely no inclination towards any community or religion. Shah Bano was divorced by her husband in 1978. She filed criminal lawsuit in Supreme Court of India and won the right to alimony from her husband in 1985. The then Congress government who had complete majority gave in to the pressure of Islamic orthodoxy as Muslims stated that judgement was in conflict with Islamic law and reversed the decision. After Shah Bano judgement in 1985, many senior leaders in Indian National Congress had suggested PM of India, Rajiv Gandhi that if government didn’t enact a law in Parliament which could overturn the SC judgement, the Congress would face decimation. So they enacted a law diluting SC judgement, the act allowed maintenance to divorced woman only during period of ‘iddat’ or till 90 days of divorce. This overruling of SC verdict was an example of party’s pseudo secular tactics which allowed cynical manipulation of religion for political ends. The Congress gained huge voterbase after this. The Congress continued its appeasement politics by refusing to interfere in Waqf boards or in the matter of Haj subsidy etc. and enjoy muslim loyalty.
In 2014, NaMo came into picture and projected Congress as Anti- Hindu and started appeasing Hindus who formed 80% of the total population. He tended to unite them against Congress. People too wanted change in things and relief from melancholic atmosphere created because of the dismal performance of UPA II whose governance was riddled with scams. They hoped to see Achhe Din projected by Modiji. Those Acche Din remain to be seen. In our country, religion plays an important role in how people view political issues usually the social ones. The voter then uses his response to these issues as a factor which will help him in choosing a particular candidate. Its high time that people stop playing pawn in the hands of these parties. In today’s political scenario,these lines from Urdu poet Nadim Nadeem are aptly said-
In se umeed na rakh hain ye siyasat vaale,
Ye kisi se bhi mohabbat nahin karne vaale.
- Prabhjyot Singh