Some Muslim-looking leaders have appealed, particularly to the Muslims, to come out of the vote bank era and to vote for Modi. They stated in their appeal that Muslims are very prosperous and safe in Gujarat and that India had thousands of communal riots and why should one remember only 2002 Gujrat riot!
Such misleading appeals to vote for the BJP will hardly affect a single secular-justice-loving voter. Today the voters know the clear line of demarcation between secularism and communalism, between Hinduism and Hindutva. They will never betray the country’s ethos of communal harmony. They can analyse that the secular parties are, more or less, governed by the Constitution. But for the communalists, Gujarat pogrom is what the Muslims deserved; Babri Masjid demolition is moral and a matter of belief; no democratic rights but majoritarianism and might, law or no law.
The BJP leadership sheds tears on how powerless the Muslims have been treated as mere vote banks by the secular parties. But the same party opposes implementation of Prime Minister’s 15 points program on the development of Muslims. Even the government of Gujarat has challenged the legality of ‘Sachar Committee’ report. This confirms that they have no real interest in the welfare of Muslims.
Keeping an eye on P.M.’s seat Modi is trying to come out of the stigma of 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom. Indeed, the scale of killings, rapes, physical loss and property destruction was so huge, in terms of time and geographical spread, that this could never have been occurred without the collusion of the Government machinery over which Mr. Modi presides with an iron grip. He never uttered a word of sympathy for the victims for 2002 nor a word of regret or remorse. This is worse than the ‘original sin’.
As for the development, the CAG reports and data on economic and social development from various sources make it evident that the much-touted “Gujarat model” of development is non-inclusive, socially divisive and highly ineffective in key areas.
Representations made to Sachar committee reveal what issues the Muslims think are important to them. For no other state, security was such an important issue as Muslims of Gujarat, they ranked it as their third most important issue while the all India level this issues was placed fifth out of the nine categories. Again, poverty incidence is 34 for Muslims of Gujarat residing in urban areas, which is better than many states but almost double the state (Gujarat) average of 18.
Unfortunately, by stages, the communal extremist forces have come to challenge the very fabric of secularism. This general election shall be a test of the political maturity and wisdom of the people.
Afrad ke hathon mein hai aqwam ki taqdeer
Har fard hai millat ke muqaddar ka sitara
( Naushad Ansari is Gen. Secretary of Peace Foundation)