Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Examples of Minority Appeasement by 'Secular' Indian Political Parties



We can take as our first example the Samajwadi Party that has governed India’s province of Uttar Pradesh since 2012, has been creating Muslim-only welfare schemes. They have created special tribunals to expedite the hearing of cases relating to Muslim-owned property. They even tried to unilaterally drop charges against Muslims accused of terrorism but thankfully, the judiciary did not permit the same. When bloody riots between Hindus and Muslims broke out in the Muzaffarnagar district of the province in 2013, Azam Khan, a Muslim leader of the party, allegedly instructed police personnel to not fire at Muslim rioters. It is true that some elements in the BJP are believed to have had a hand in these riots from the side of the Hindus, and the religious polarization generated by these riots in some districts of western Uttar Pradesh did work to the advantage of the BJP in the national elections in those particular areas, but this certainly doesn’t explain the victory of the BJP on a countrywide scale.




For Peer Review Only
The Trinamool Congress (TMC), the party governing the province of West Bengal, provisioned a monthly allowance for Muslim clerics, costing a near-bankrupt provincial government hundreds of millions of Indian rupees annually. On 12th September 2013, the provincial public prosecutor told the judiciary that cases against Muslim rioters who had attacked well-known “heretic Muslim” writer Taslima Nasrin should be dropped, and this was a riot in which the army had to be called in to control the violence and arson. The chief minister declined to meet the US ambassador to appease some Muslims, for which she received accolades from a prominent Muslim cleric, who said she would “secure maximum votes from Muslims. The same cleric also endorsed her as prime ministerial material! It would, however, be interesting to note that in these national elections in 2014, in spite of a “Modi wave” across India, the TMC still managed more seats than the BJP within the province of West Bengal, much of the Hindu majority of which is known to be strongly averse to Hindu majoritarian politics, though the BJP did win two seats in West Bengal, one of them being from a Muslim-majority constituency!




The Congress-led secular’ government in the province of Kerala stopped supplying midday meals to government schools, during Ramadan, even for non-Muslim students in some regions back in 2013, obviously to appease Muslims. The BJP had condemned the same and rightly so.


The ‘secular’ Congress government in the province of Karnataka announced a housing scheme for homeless minorities, financial assistance of Rs.50,000 each for marriage of minority-community girls, and minority-only education scholarships too. The state Congress chief G. Parameshwara said in October 2013 that it didn’t matter if minorities did not repay loans to the government and ‘it was part of the development process’.




An Indian Muslim politician Asaduddin Owaisi spewed venom against Jews (not only extreme Zionists in particular) as a collectivity, saying that they have always been enemies of Islam” and endorsing the armed jihad in Palestine, and even saying that every Muslim must morally support the jihad, failing which he/she is not a true Muslim! This clearly amounts to hate speech, given that India has a Jewish minority. His brother Akbaruddin, also a politician, allegedly delivered a speech outraging Hindu religious sentiments. Even during the campaigns for these national elections, some Muslim politicians like Azam Khan and Shazia Ilmi passed divisive remarks.



The Congress government at the centre did not permit Salman Rushdie to visit India for a reputed literary festival, in spite of his lawfully obtained visa, to appease regressive Muslims. Likewise, it took a nod from a body of Catholic bishops to screen the Hollywood film The Da Vinci Code in spite of the film having been cleared by India’s censor board. Several provincial governments imposed a ban on the film (which was screened without any legal obstacles in very many Catholic-majority countries), which was lifted only after judicial intervention!



The previous Congress-led government at the centre even tried to push for a legislation supposedly aimed at curbing violence between religious groupings, but which would address only the grievances of victims from those religious groupings that constitute the minorities in a province, and would not address violence by members of a minority community against members of the majority community. And in most Indian provinces, Hindus constitute the majority community and Muslims a minority community.


In the field of higher education, a Muslim writer, Ajaz Ashraf, has pointed out, in an article, the Indian state’s 1981 amendment that has given regressive clerics control over Muslim universities, like the Aligarh Muslim University (once the epitome of progressive thought), leading even to discrimination against academicians who are not practising Sunni men for the appointment of vice chancellor, which he strongly condemns. Two passages from the article are worth quoting –

“Worryingly, this process has turned AMU into a playground of community leaders who are Sunnis, often illiberal, having foggy ideas of modern education. Thus, for the post of VC, count out Hindu professors, as also those Shia, however brilliant, Leftists and atheists. Women? Stop joking. Indeed, AMU’s emphatic turn to Islamic Right has been in the years following the 1981 amendment.”
and
“…their plight is directly linked to that idea of secularism which empowers community leaders whose notions of education lack the imagination befitting the 21st century. Muslims should not want this sort of secularism, good neither for their education nor for India.”
It may also be noted that the Congress under Rajiv Gandhi had, in order to appease regressive Muslims, practically overturned the progressive Supreme Court ruling in the Shah Bano case dealing with a Muslim woman’s right to maintainence after divorce. The overturning only harmed the interests of Muslim women, not Hindus, and led to the resignation of Mr. Arif Mohammed Khan, a progressive Muslim politician, from the cabinet.


Some ‘secular’ politicians have used look-alikes of Osama and Saddam to woo rural Muslim voters.

This article by an Indian Muslim gentleman is also worth a read.


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