By Dr Javed Jamil,
Today’s Indian Express, in an article comparing the strengths and weaknesses of Modi and Rahul Gandhi, has quoted one “general Secretary of BJP” saying that “Can 16 pc voters (Muslims) decide the country’s Prime Minster?” and another General Secretary echoing the same. Yes, this is true that 16 pc Muslims can on their own not choose the Prime Minister. Nor are Muslims so selfish that they would like to decide the nation’s Prime Minister alone without developing a consensus with their majority community brothers and other sections of society. But yes, 16 pc are too many to stop the march of a rath which has been built on the graves of thousands of humans who at the same time happened to be Indians as well as Muslims.
This is high time Muslims acted with unity, and more importantly, judiciously. Unity alone does not help. In the absence of clear guiding principles, it often leads to disaster. These guidelines must be clearly defined if Muslims want to play a meaningful role in the country’s affairs.
In my approach paper, “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Roadmap” (soon I am going to publish it as book), I had discussed that Indian Muslims have three statuses, everyone being equally important. First, constitutionally they are “minority” and have every right to seek their constitutional rights and special privileges as a deprived community. Second, ideologically and culturally, they are the second largest majority, which must be in a position to play a meaningful and effective role in determining the national policies in all matters concerning the country. Third, they are part of the deprived majority and in this capacity they must work on all fronts to reduce economic disparity and empower the deprived masses. They must exert social pressures on the state to adopt policies that favour the people and not few corporate bosses.
When we go into the next general elections, we must keep in mind all our three statuses. While we must not forget stressing demands which are Muslim-specific, at the same time, we must not repeat the blunder of sticking only to what concerns Muslims alone. Muslim masses will benefit most when we have a government that cares for the deprived majority, which wants to empower them, not through the “trickling effect” of the corporate growth but through direct participation in socioeconomic revolution. We must be aware of the health issues, the issues of morality and the cultural depravity. We must seek to build a rapport with all sections of society on common minimum agenda. We must extend cooperation to others in order to receive their cooperation.
Once we decide on what we want the government to do – both in terms of general policies and Muslim specific issues, we have to sit down and find out which political combinations are going to suit us best. And “Us” should always mean Muslims as well as the common men of the country. Following that we must negotiate with all these forces and see what they have to offer. Then we must sit together to take a final decision. But we must show to those who think that they can elect Prime Minister without our agreeing to their choice that “No, our presence will count”.
Dr Javed Jamil is India based thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough” and “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 91-8130340339