By Haider Abbas
Muslims all across the nation are the same dispossessed, hounded and reviled, visible as individuals but invisible as a citizen. There is virtually no policy or an agenda for Muslim emancipation, in terms of health, education, economy or security, from any government, from decades, though with some tokenism for sometime, in the form of reservation etc, that too, to be later struck by the Court. The Sachar Commission report and the Ranganath Misra Commission reports, have proved, at best to be only misnomers.
On the contrary, the entire polity is factored against Muslims. This has become all the more aggravated after the free-lease of social-media, as a mob lynching of a Muslim, in a remote Odhisha village becomes an instant rage throughout the nation, leading to further xenophobia against whom? Against Muslims.
The victim is to be blamed, shamed and slammed. This is the prevalent logic. The party which euphemistically claims for Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas, that is the ruling party-BJP, has proved to be thoroughly hollow, as there hasn’t been any consonance between the words and deeds. It is under this extreme anti-Muslim political scenario came the Karnataka elections, and which, has found BJP trounced.
Before the Karnataka elections results are to be probed, what matters more is to understand that BJP is not ‘politics for agenda but an agenda for politics’, its strategy and ideology can clearly be understood, it considers the Upper Caste Hindu Brahmin rape convicts of Bilqis Bano, of Gujarat riots -2002, as sanskari ( cultured). Could there be one anchor seeking this query from the likes of Nirmala Sitharaman and Smriti Irani? Can such anti-human stand become a poll plank for Karnataka? Never. Unlike, this, there has been a barrage of anti-Muslim campaigns like anti-Hijab, anti-Halal food etc from Karnataka. The image of that Hijab girl chanting Allah-ho-Akbar ( God is Greatest) while ‘heckled and hounded’ by saffron flag bearing BJP members is all what spells BJP DNA. This is what BJP means through its Beti Bachao Beti Padhao , and which, is right now also being manifested as India’s top international medalists are seeking justice against BJP sitting MP Brij Bhushan Singh at Janta Mantar over charges of sexual abuse, under POSCO too.
The 40% BJP sarkar, embroiled in massive corruption, was slated to be shunted-out but right on the onset of elections Congress announced it would ban Bajrang Dal and Popular Front of India (PFI). Why? This was to give a potent tool to BJP from inside Congress? The state was in total anti-incumbent mood, but then why would Congress stem for it?
Congress can never summon the courage for it. Never. But, why would it do to invite a Hindu backlash? The answer lies, that BJP today is made of all the erstwhile Congressmen, primarily all the Upper Caste Brahmins and Thakurs, who have shifted to BJP in the last three decades. The step also yielded results. BJP vote percentage is intact! It made BJP ultimate ringmaster Narendra Modi cry Jai Bajrang Bali, a reference to the Lord Hanuman, to communalize the elections to the hilt, but it did not deter the voters. But which voters? Hindu voters stuck with BJP on the same lines, and it is only Muslims to charted the doom for BJP. Muslims shifted from Janta Dal (S) to Congress en masse and notched-up the results for Congress.
The Karnataka Assembly third element Janta Dal (S) which had split in 1999 from Janta Dal (United), dream of being a kingmaker had come crashing down, as its tally from 38/ 224 in 2018 has come down to 19 and its vote percentage from 18.36% dipped to 13.3% in 2023. BJP had 104 in 2018 and today stands 66, while Congress from 80 in 2018 has increased its tally to 136. This five-percent swing of Muslim votes from JD (S) spelt the crash for BJP. BJP lost its deposit on 31 seats! Media, very astutely, right after the results, changed its mascot towards President JP Nadda as BJP loser and Narendra Modi, was replaced on the screens. This is how media works for BJP as 2024 nears.
The Muslim voting pattern can easily be gauged as Congress fielded 15 and 9 of them won, two have retained their seats too. Janta Dal (S) which stood at 7 in 2018 fielded 23 this time and no Muslim won from it. AIMIM, as always, got a miniscule 0.02 % voters but successfully increased the vote-percentage of BJP through its policy of rhetoric against BJP, which only leads to BJP communal consolidation. The SDPI fielded 16 and none saw a win. Muslims brought all the BJP euphoria down, after it had scrapped the 4% quota of Muslim reservation, maligned the idea of Tipu Sultan, who most arguably stands amongst the highest of the land to have fought to British in 1799, and is a synonym for revolutionaries all across the world. BJP cannot stand a Muslim icon who still reigns inside the heart of millions, Muslims in particular, as it is from Muslims the Britishers had usurped the power. Muslims roughly make around 15% of Karnataka, a figure quite underplayed, and are concentrated in around 65 constituencies where their voting alone can sway the elections any side, 88% of Muslim vote went for Congress. Will the Congress give the due Muslim representation in the ministry? Or harp back on its traditional tokenism? Is what is to be seen? Will a ban on Bajrang Dal remain only on its manifesto? Perhaps yes.
Congress has no organization and a wherewithal to fight UP in BJP. BSP has always been the second fiddle to BJP, it is only SP which ‘has it all’ to take-up against BJP in 2024. The secular and social justice benchmark of SP needs no proof as SP holds-up to its ideology well. In the just concluded local body elections, which of course are merely cosmetic, BJP had fielded 395 Muslims. These shameless and rudderless Muslims should have at least sought from BJP about its stand on the cultured rapists of Muslim women? 61 of them have won too! BJP has nothing to loose as it is through ‘them’ BJP will camouflage its anti-Muslim image in 2024, and through its media blitzkrieg, will try to blunt the Muslim opposition, particularly in UP, where Muslims make more than 40 million and also that UP sends the highest number of 80 MPs. It is now just a year to go for polls, which will need to be fought to save the secular and socialist fiber of India. Let’s wait to see what happens.
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and writes on politics.