Too many cooks, it is said, spoil the broth. It’s election time and we are witnessing a mushroom growth of benefactors of Muslims. Unless the community develops a hierarchy of advisors and networking of organisations for consultation, the community might end up devaluing its precious votes.
This election is marked by the confusion of parties and total liberalisation of the ideology. Power by hook or crook is the only guiding force. No principles are being shared by allies. Personal loyalties and equations are the key determinants. Consequently, fronts within fronts and alliances with unlike partners are being firmed up. Vanishing of the third front and advent of the bi-polarity, barring a few states, is yet another factor of this election. This has made the task of choosing the right candidate and party in a given constituency a much more ticklish affair. Rather than being led by the self propagated slogans of ‘patriotic’, ‘clean’, ‘efficient’ or epithets peddled by rivals like ‘anti-national’, ‘corrupt’ and ‘inefficient’, Muslims should determine their own priorities in the interest of the community and the nation. There is nobody who is innocent in politics. Over the years choice has shifted from search of superlatives to a quest of a fewer number of negatives. However poignant a commentary it might be, the facts have to be faced squarely.
Tactical voting is, therefore, the imperative necessity of the hour by Muslims and the depressed classes. This kind of voting needs careful study of the ideology of the party leading the front, mindset of the leadership, caste composition of the constitution, the dominant interests of the castes that aspire to rule, their relationship with the bureaucracy (which implements the policies), etc. No longer a policy of mass boycott of a party or en bloc voting for another one would work. All this calls for the community to develop a mechanism to determine the winning potential of a particular candidate among the several parading as secular ones.
The coming together of four leading Muslim organisations, namely Jamaat e Islami Hind, Jamiatul Ulmae Hind, All India Milli Council and Muslim Majlis Mushawarat is, therefore, a welcome step. The non-political nature and pan-Indian network of these organisations should come in handy in unifying the choice of candidates and carrying out the task of guidance of the Muslim voters. Besides efficient documentation and political feedback mechanism, they would require dynamic message dissemination system to get to the individual voter in the nick of time.
But at the same time Muslims would need to be on guard against election- eve growth of a variety of fronts which broker the community’s votes. One of the former leaders of Aligarh Muslim University Students Union, another activist of a self styled minorities front and an Imam of a Delhi mosque etc. are prominent names on this circuit which come up with letter head organisations. Some of them head at least half a dozen such organizations. Officially controlled Doordarshan, All India Radio and the two principal news agencies that are subsidized by the government promptly publicise the moves of these bodies. They represent no one but themselves. Secondly, the community should not place confidence in too many guides, however, well meaning they might be. This is fraught with the risk of fragmenting the votes. While democratic rights of everyone must be respected, one should realize the fact that chaos and confusion could be the worst enemy of Muslim at this critical juncture. The community and the organisations guiding the Muslim choices for vote would do well by conforming to the agenda chalked out by them. Finally, it is apprehended that the questions like Kargil would be used for communal polarisation. Some hints are already available. Muslims would have to refuse walking into the trap.