By Maulana Asrarul Haq Qasmi (MP)
The BJP and RSS ideology has always been based on animosity and hatred towards Muslims. These organizations and their sister concerns are not expected to have anything in mind for Muslim community other than hate, hate and more hate. In the last seventy years since the independence of the country, they have expressed their overt and covert hatred for the community in innumerable ways. They have never restrained from showing their detestation and abhorrence for the Muslim community and to be true they have never tried to hide it. On the other hand, Muslims have never tried to get close to them, as saffron parties have never left any opening for it.
While BJP and the RSS have detested Muslims, they have tried to ensure that they have a few Muslim faces surrounding them merely as showpieces. Nonetheless these Muslim faces too failed to connect the larger Muslim community in the country. At the national level, despite being in politics for a very long time, BJP has never really made any effort to attract Muslims. Resultantly, the distance between Muslims and the BJP has remained unchanged. The saffron organizations have always accused the Congress party and other political parties of playing vote bank politics, for they sometimes raised Muslim issues.
Nonetheless, many people were shocked when during a speech in Kerala recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi while quoting Deen Dal Upadhyay, asked BJP workers not to take Muslims as vote bank or a market commodity. The same leader had refused to don a skullcap during a Sadbhawna program in the year 2012. During the recent meet in Kerala, Modi told party workers that Muslims shouldn’t be hated, but they should be treated as one of us. He told the audience, “Don’t spread the poison of hatred against Muslims. There is a need to put them on the road to progress and make them independent. They are not something to be hated”.
The Prime Minister’s counsel to his party workers and his advice surely shows that his party actually hates the Muslim community of the country. This is a truth that cannot be wished away. Their top leaders, including many ministers in Narendra Modi government at the center have been openly expressing their open hatred against Muslims, going to the extent of asking them to migrate to Pakistan. They have even threatened to dump them in the Arabian Sea. Despite their hateful and vile speeches, no effort has been made to stop them from doing it. On the contrary, people who played major role in Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 have been encouraged, rewarded and even promoted.
It seems rather laughable that those party cadres and Saffron activists who have been fed with anti-Muslim poison over the last several decades, have been advised, all in a sudden, to change their hearts and start accepting Muslims as one of their own. As we have mentioned above, the decision to refuse donning skullcap was nothing except the known anti-Muslim attitude of Prime Minister Modi. Besides, the Gujarat riots of 2002, that had saw the killing of some 3000 Muslims is a stain on his sleeves that can never be cleansed.
Following his advice to his party workers not to hate Muslims, Modi has launched a program called Progress Panchayat. This is an initiative that has been launched in collaboration of his party and the Government. Under the Progress Panchayat, the BJP wants to attract Muslims in 100 districts where a sizeable population of Muslims lives. In these Panchayats, BJP leadership wants to interact with Muslims of the area and seek their advice regarding the development of the community.
The first Progress Panchayat was held in Mewat, Haryana. This is one of the most backward Muslim areas in the country and two Muslims were killed and two Muslim women were raped on the issue of beef. BJP government is trying to harass the community and for the last five months troubling the community by haunting Biryani sellers, taking samples to find beef.
This seems rather strange, that the party that is asking its cadres not to take Muslims as vote bank and accusing others of doing so, is doing precisely the same by launching Progress Panchayat.
There is no denying that be it the advice to its cadre not to hate Muslims or launch of Progress Panchayat for the ‘development of the Muslims’ these are nothing more than political gimmicks. The party has realized that it has utterly failed in delivering on the Himalayan promises that it had made in the 2014 Parliamentary elections. Now it is sure that party may not repeat its 2014 performance either in UP assembly elections due next year or Parliamentary elections in 2019 as people are feeling cheated. This is the reason that the saffron party is making efforts to attract Muslims, who have lived at arm’s length from them.
To understand the backwardness of the Muslim community, BJP doesn’t need to launch Progress Panchayat. The BJP and the government at the center that it leads are well aware of it. If government wants to empower the community, there are hundreds of recommendations by government agencies rotting in files. All details regarding them are available. By implementing these recommendations, Muslim issues can be solved to a great extent. Nonetheless, our experience is that the current government, instead of solving Muslim issues or empower them, is working on the planning to keep them bogged down.
Muslims neither believed the BJP or Modi promises in last parliamentary elections, nor there is any sign that they will believe it now. There is no sign that the saffron party will succeed in attracting Muslims towards it in its latest bid now. (Maulana Asrarul Haq Qasmi is a sitting Lok Sabha MP)