Safar\Rabi-Ul-Awwal 1424 H
Volume 16-05 No : 197
Camps \ Workshops
|Now you can pay for subscriptions online|
Formation of a political party for or by Muslims, as conceived by a section of Delhi-based Muslims, would be unwise to the extent of being suicidal for the community. Even if the sincerity of its proponents could be given the benefit of doubt, wisdom behind the move is questionable.
The logic of Muslims being a vote-bank hardly lends itself to this vote-bank being encashable at the hustings by a Muslim political party. Analogy of a Dalit party or the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) being successful in Uttar Pradesh too does not satisfy the similar proposition in context to Muslims over the entire country. Nor does the Kerala example where the rump Muslim League was able to retain itself as a marginal player, could be extended to the entire country.
Success of a political party has to be necessarily measured in terms of seats in legislature. Hindsight would suggest that successful political parties have been those which had either a social movement at their backs or could manage a broad social spectrum, and thereby their social contradictions within over a long period of time. In the second case, forceful ideology and a socio-economic agenda at the ground level has always proved to be a bonding force. Those that emerged without fulfilling these pre-requisites, failed to manage the flash-in-the-pan success if any, or fell prey to the oversized egos of their leaders, and finally vanished without a whimper. The Janata Party, Janata Dal or the Republican Party of India could serve as the best examples. Even parties by strong founding leaders have not succeeded beyond a time-frame. Swatantra Party by C. Rajagopalachari is a case for instance.
It still leaves the regional outfits like the Dravid Kazhgams of Tamil Nadu, TDP of Andhra Pradesh, AGP in Assam, or several other outfits in the North-eastern states of India. They have survived merely by force of either regional appeal, anger against the mal-treatment received from the Centre or strong regional identity with the added element of cinema, oratory or charismatic appeal of its leaders. A small exception however could be made in case of Dravida Kazhgams which also take in the element of the social movement that preceded them by four decades beginning from Justice Party.
The success delivered by regional chauvinism in the South or North-east is replaced by caste factor in case of small successes by the Samajwadi Party, the BSP in Uttar Pradesh and the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar.
This leaves us with the question as to why the Muslim League cannot be replicated in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar, where live India’s 60 per cent Muslims. Answer is a simple ‘No’. First because except their faith, there is hardly anything that binds them together. Bond of common language, i.e., Urdu has vanished in the post -independence era. Uttar Pradesh Muslims are practically Hindi-using community while Biharis still cling to Urdu and Muslims in Bengal think and use Bengali alone. And using faith as a political ideology is fraught with risk of communalising the community and handing over bigger political successes to the Sangh Parivar outfits, which includes the BJP, to unleash more violent reprisals against the already much terrorised Muslims. It will also allow the much saffronised media to build up a nexus between the nascent Muslim political party and the secessionist elements, if any, active in several of those states. Kerala’s coastal border and Malayali character of the community has mercifully barred the local media from invoking such chimeras.
Perhaps the course and strategy for political power or empowerment could be best decided if the objective is first put in place. If it is security, socio-economic development, protection of civil rights and liberties and freedom to continue with religious and cultural identity, seeking a due share in power, Muslims should think of building sound base in all secular parties, lay equal stress on nurturing diverse talents within their ranks, nurture budding leaders, feed them intellectually as well as financially, couch their concerns and wants in secular idiom and appear to be a forward-looking community which wishes the nation well without exclusion of any segment of its mal-nourished, unwashed and illiterate multitudes. Viewed from this angle, neither the National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir nor the Muslim League in Kerala appear anywhere near the mark.