Muslim Vote

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During every general election in India, which is held at five year intervals, one gets to hear the oft repeated question of who should the Indian Muslims vote for? One sees many TV debates centered around this theme. Not to be left behind, enough is written about this issue even in the print media. It seems that most political commentators in India, who ask this question, are still caught in a time warp. This question was valid after partition of India in 1947 and many decades after that. In the aftermath of the partition, Indian Muslims definitely faced an identity crisis and they were looked down upon by many, especially the right wing parties like the Jan Sangh, as ‘’traitors’’. The Congress party played cynical politics towards Indian Muslims owing to this threat and also their identity crisis. But after mid 1980, the Indian Muslims have slowly drifted away from the Congress, since they were fed up with the patronizing behaviour of the Congress party. They realized that Congress party hadn’t done much by way of development of the community. Also what lead to this drift was the fact that it was the Rajiv Gandhi led Govt in Delhi that allowed the Shilanyas to happen at the Babri Masjid, which proved to be a precursor to its ultimate razing at the hands of the right wing Hindu zealots in Dec 1992. Indian Muslims also realized that many of the anti Muslim carnages that happened at different times and places like Bhagalpur etc happened during Congress rule. So post 1990, Indian Muslims started to move towards regional parties like Smajawadi Party and Bahujan Samajh Party in UP and Rashtriya Janata Dal led by Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar. The Congress party has at various stages tried to do lip service to the cause of Indian Muslims, but now it fails to convince a vast majority of them about their sincerity. Moreover the majority of Indian Muslim population is now young, who want better jobs, better life in addition to their dignity and security.

It will be natural to think that like any other discernible voter, Indian Muslim voter will also go to cast his vote taking such factors into view and try to make the best use of the options available to him. It sounds highly patronizing when political parties begin to woo clerics during elections to impress upon the voters to vote for a particular political formation. It is not only patronizing but also insulting the Indian Muslim that they will vote like a herd. Time is up for such thinking and all political parties and commentators need to realize this.

Another example of trying to patronize is seen in Kashmir during election time. Here some separatist leaders seem to have taken it upon themselves to appeal to the voters to boycott the elections. Voting is a very individual choice and no one should have a right to appeal to people to either boycott polls or to vote en masse for a particular political formation. It will be in place here to mention that despite these appeals failing last time, some separatists haven’t still taken a cue from the futility of such appeals. Irrespective of the voter turnout, new legislators will be elected. In case of a higher turnout, it will give the Govt of India another lever to downplay the disillusionment among Kashmiri masses against the Indian State. It is a failed tactic, whichever way one wants to understand it. Moreover in Kashmir, it is not only appeals by the separatists but also the killing of civilians by militants to enforce this diktat which is unfortunate and only leads to more deaths and mayhem.

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