BJP and the bogey of ‘Muslim appeasement’
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) decided to postpone its proposed countrywide agitation against the failure of the ruling coalition at the eleventh hour. The BJP had planned to launch the weeklong protest from May 27, asking its activists and supporters to court arrest. However, the BJP backtracked on its plan following the Maoists’ attack on a Congress party convoy in Bastar, Chattisgarh, killing several top leaders of the state. The BJP condemned the attack and postponed its agitation.
Perhaps, the BJP had erred in assuming that its agitation would draw massive support, but when reality dawned on it, the party was compelled to fall back on Chattisgarh incident as an excuse and postpone its agitation.
The reason of this self-confidence in the BJP was based on in its perception that by creating the bogey of Muslim appeasement by the Congress-led UPA government, it has succeeded once again in polarizing the Hindu community in its favor.
The BJP has recently also targeted Uttar Pradesh (UP) government led by the Samajwadi Party (SP) on this issue. There is no denying that to attract Muslim vote, various parties have in the past repeatedly made false promises and assurances to the community. But if Muslims had really been appeased in India, the so-called secular parties would have been left without any political card to woo the country’s largest minority community. There would not have been any bias against the Muslim community in the country. They would not be considered as second-class citizens by Hindu hard-liners. Doubts and speculations would not have been there over their constitutional rights, including that of equality, the freedom of speech and pursuing their religious duties.
Of course, it would be incorrect to assume that each and every Indian Muslim is a victim to such prejudices and biases. It would be equally wrong to blame all Hindus for being biased against Muslims.
However, had the BJP leaders not started objecting to what they described as “Muslim appeasement” policy of the UPA government, the issue may not have been deliberated upon. True, the UPA government has promised to address certain grievances of the Muslim community. Now, the big question is whether the government has taken any action to remove and/or at least reduce the same? If some effort has genuinely been made, why should it be viewed as “Muslim appeasement”?
It is surprising that several political leaders have raised objections to even considering and proposing action to mitigate sufferings of Indian Muslims. What does this indicate? Does not this imply that they do not want Muslims to prosper like any other community? It is indeed stunning that suggestions and proposals made to address challenges facing Muslims in secular-India should be viewed as a means to “appease” them. Well, if these problems are not seriously taken care of, it will prove to be a very dangerous, anti-secular approach of the federal and state governments. Ignoring the plight of the Muslim community or sometimes rather perpetuating it would imply that politicians in power are more concerned about appeasing anti-Muslim extremists. They are more concerned about not annoying them than addressing problems facing Muslims.
The Congress-led UPA government has recently proposed to take some corrective measures for the welfare of the Muslim community. These include providing justice to innocent Muslims who have been wrongfully detained as “terrorists.” So, if the government is considering setting up fast-track courts to look into these cases, why is the BJP agitated about it? Why the BJP leaders are calling it appeasement? Would the BJP prefer innocents Muslims to continue languishing in jails for no fault of theirs?
This policy cannot be described as that of appeasing Muslims. It aims to provide justice to them, which all citizens are constitutionally entitled to. The BJP is apparently bent on using this communal card with hope of winning support of the majority community. If parliamentary polls were not around the corner, the BJP would not have targeted a non-existent policy by trying to whip up communal passions.
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