Union Minister for Home Affairs Sushil Kumar Shinde is fast becoming the Home Minister for minorities. In his letter to all State Governments, he has specifically conveyed that no “innocent Muslim” should be kept under detention and if any such detention has occurred, then due remuneration should be paid to them.
Incidentally, this letter comes immediately after two seemingly unrelated events. The first, Bhavesh Patel, an accused in the Ajmer blast case, came out with a stunning revelation that he was asked by the Home Minister to link the RSS chief with the blasts. This is the same person who talked of Hindu terror at the Jaipur Congress conclave.
Is it a renewed attempt by the Congress to gain minority sympathy, a vote-bank that has helped it for many decades in the past? Ask any man on the street and the answer would be yes. Politics of appeasement has been the mainstay of Congress and many of its allies. The Uttar Pradesh Assembly election showed that a minor swing of 4 per cent votes can bring about a poll sweep. This happened for the Samajwadi Party, which brought in the Akhilesh Government.
However, let us not forget that the maximum number of Muslim detainees in terror-related activities are in Uttar Pradesh with Andhra Pradesh following in a close second position. The first is governed by a so-called Muslim-affectionate party and the latter by Congress, the so-called secular saviour of Muslims. Moreover, it is the non-BJP States that have the distinction of having the highest numbers of extra-judicial killings of terror-accused and their accomplices — read Muslim boys. Does this mean that communal malice exists in the Congress and other ‘secular’ party-ruled States? Or is it that intelligence inputs forced them to round up more people from the Muslim communities? If so, why this lip service?
The reason of course is all that has happened in the last six decades. Lip service, induced fears and dangling of carrots, all for the cause of Muslim-appeasement, with no actual plan for development in their lives. Vote-bank politics has been the norm. Anybody who dares call this farce by its true name is communal and those who pretend to accept it are the seculars.
With election around the corner, every party that suffers from the condition called Secularitis is scampering for this chunk of votes. That’s why even if Muslim intelligentsia stand up and raise their voice — as did Nawazuddin, ex-police officer who wrote a book called What muslims should do — their books are banned simply because they ask the youth of their community to not fall prey to such carrots and instead strive for development in economic and social terms. After all, it is financial development that brings positive change. However, the aforementioned book, originally written in Bengali, was banned by another Muslim-baiting politician — Mamata Banerjee.
Now the second unrelated fact. The conviction of RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav has got everybody eying the Muslim vote in Bihar. This is where the timing of Shinde’s letter becomes so important. A series of riots in the last one year — including the Muzaffarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh — have forced Muslims to lose their faith in Mulayam. Close on the heels of this loss of faith comes Lalu’s conviction. Shinde’s timing is aimed at trying to win over the Muslims to the Congress camp.
There’s one more reason to doubt his intentions. Shinde’s ‘secular’ sentiments could have been addressed to all those who have been falsely implicated in various charges and that State Governments should make the effort to minimise such errors. Moreover, it would anyways have addressed the same segment if that truly was the fact, but that wouldn’t have served the purpose.
A community-specific statement from the Government was needed to reap electoral benefits for the ruling alliance.
Will this politics of lollypop-distribution still work? I have my doubts. The democratic traditions that go into the making of this country are much stronger than Congress believes. Otherwise, post-emergency, there was every reason that Indira Gandhi should have won in 1977 election. But history as they say, shows that people have deeper understanding of truth than they seem to have.