Politics

Exit Poll Lesson For Muslims: ‘Secular’ Parties Are Your Worst Enemies

Muslim women outside a polling station.
Snapshot
  • The average Muslim needs to acknowledge that he has been taken for a ride by the secular parties.

    Once this realisation sets in, he or she will know that he or she has better political options.

The exit poll results will have come as a shock not only for the anti-Narendra Modi opposition, but one community in particular: Muslims. In state after state, whether it is Uttar Pradesh or Bihar or West Bengal, Muslims have been asked to vote en bloc against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and in favour of so-called 'secular' parties.

If the various mahagathbandhans collectively fail to deliver the knockout blow to the BJP, as seems likely, the real orphans of this election will be the minority community.

Muslims need to introspect on where their blind dislike for the BJP, and equally blind belief in the 'secular' alternatives, has led them: a cul-de-sac.

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Secular parties could not prevent the Babri Masjid from being demolished. They may not be able to prevent a Ram Mandir from being built in Ayodhya in due course either. Where they could have earned goodwill from the majority community by agreeing to a compromise, they are being egged on by 'secular' parties to become more intransigent on Ayodhya.

Secular parties could not prevent them from being marginalised electorally in most states, barring some in the south. But repeated use of the minority card to win elections will now awaken a latent Hindu vote in the south too, as has happened in Bengal this year.

Secular parties could not prevent the courts from invalidating triple talaq in one sitting, and it may ultimately not be able to stop laws to prevent nikah halala and even bigamy. These are good reforms for Muslims to embrace, but the 'secular' parties are encouraging them to resist by making it sound like a Hindu imposition.

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Secular parties cannot ultimately save them from local cow-related vigilante violence, especially when the Congress party itself is busy making cow protection a central theme in the Hindi belt in its quest for regaining the estranged Hindu’s vote. But they are being told that organising beef festivals is the way to become secular.

Secular parties cannot ultimately guarantee a fair share of the benefits of growth and safety and security if they are busy placating the angry Hindu voter. Muslims are being repeatedly promised job reservations, when the BJP has presented a new jobs quota based purely on economic criteria. The 'secular' parties will, however, not let them see this reality.

The problem is not with secularism itself, but its fraudulent manifestation in India, where Hinduphobia is being fanned to give Muslims and even Christians the feeling that 'secularism' is a favour to them.

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In any genuinely secular democracy, equality of treatment or equidistance from all religious communities should be the norm, but in India we have the peculiar situation where to woo Muslims there is a need to denigrate Hindus, or divide them (‘Hindutva is not Hinduism”) in order to win elections. History in being rewritten to make heroes out of Islamist villains like Aurangzeb or Tipu Sultan, apparently to woo the Muslim vote.

Worse, constitutional provisions (articles 25-30) intended to give minorities a sense of control of their religious and educational institutions are used to deny the same to Hindus.

On the other hand, genuinely progressive legislation on triple talaq or job and educational quotas based on economic criteria – like the one legislated in haste this January – is been sold as benefiting Hindus only. When quotas do not depend on your caste or community identity, why is it assumed that these can’t benefit Muslims? The BJP, for its part, may not want to tom-tom the fact that Muslims can benefit under this quota, but the secular parties continue their demonisation of the BJP just so that they feed Muslim fears.

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It should be obvious that the 'secular' parties have done more to separate Muslims from the mainstream than any of the bigoted elements in Hindu society. They have forced Muslims into narrow mental ghettos by repeatedly frightening them about the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), when they should be engaging with the latter to find points of mutual benefit.

The more the 'secular' parties demonise the BJP as a bigoted Hindu party, the more the BJP gains even while doing very little for Hindus. The Hindu vote consolidation that has happened in 2019, as seems apparent from the exit poll results, will marginalise Muslims even further.

Isn’t it time Muslims asked themselves a simple question: why do they have to be the foot-soldiers of a bogus secularism? What do they benefit by being used as instrument to irritate or anger the average Hindu voter, who is neither a Muslim hater nor a bigot?

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The average Muslim needs to acknowledge that he has been taken for a ride by the secular parties. Once this realisation sets in, he or she will know that he or she has better political options.

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