Secularism in India is now defined through deprivation of positions and opportunities to Muslims. Under-representation of Muslims and the resulting over-representation of others is now the criterion of the secular credentials of parties. Based on that criterion, BJP of course claim to be the most secular party of India.
Dr Javed Jamil
It was about 3 months back that I released the Agenda 2014: Muslim Perspective. I can say that while I have reasons for some satisfaction, I have bigger reasons for disappointment. The elections are around. Party tickets have been allocated. Rallies are being organized. Manifestos are being released. I have the satisfaction that Muslim organizations and leaders have raised their demands and there has been some if not the adequate focus on the issues. Since the release of my “Muslim Vision: Destination & Roadmap” document, the debate on the issues related to political, social and economic empowerment of Muslims has picked up. More and more people are now talking of Roadmap for Muslims and Muslim vision. In this election there have been many vocal protests in the meetings especially of AAP regarding the allocation of tickets to Muslims. Apart from the Agenda submitted by me (along with Mr. Sirajuddin Qureshi), other organizations too have come up with their drafts. Obviously all of them had similar proposals with some differences. In my agenda, there were also demands related to the socioeconomic policies of the country as a whole. The one related to “Right to Health”, which was the major demand in that category, has been openly endorsed by Rahul Gandhi. Arvind Kejriwal has embarked upon the anti-corporate agenda, which has been the central theme of my “Muslim Vision” document and the majority of my articles on various issues in last few months.
But as far as the major Muslim demands are concerned, there seems to be no indication of approval by any of the major parties. I had proposed a formula for the adequate share of Muslims in the political institutions. This included allocation of 15 pc tickets to Muslims for Lok Sabha, promise of allocating 15 pc seats in Rajya Sabha from the respective quotas of the parties, and if the winning candidates of the party are less in number than 15 pc of the party tally, compensation through allocation of extra seats in Rajya Sabha. No party except BSP has done the adequate in the allocation of tickets. Out of 80 seats in UP, BSP has allocated 19 to Muslims, which is almost equal to the percentage of Muslim population in the state. Congress and AAP both have allocated 6-8 pc. BJP of course has only around 1pc.
When AAP leaders were questioned about the inadequacy of Muslim representation, they have argued that they do not allot tickets on the community/caste basis. Strange argument. As I have said in my last article, Secularism in India is now defined through deprivation of positions and opportunities to Muslims. Under-representation of Muslims and the resulting over-representation of others is now the criterion of the secular credentials of parties. Based on that criterion, BJP of course claim to be the most secular party of India.
We will have a new government in May. Whoever – BJP or any other group –leads it, Muslims will have to immediately embark on their agenda. The best time for action is not before the elections but after the elections. A government is more likely to accede to difficult demands in the first and second year rather than closer to elections when they fear backlash. Till elections, Muslims must concentrate on finding ways to keep the “most secular” party out of the government. But if it comes to power, we have to refresh our strategy and see how a workable relationship can be developed with the government of the day.
Finally, Muslims should not forget that they cannot build a successful political momentum in the country till they do not actively campaign for the general demands of the nation. This will help them getting support of other communities who will then be more willing to support Muslims in their genuine demands.
* Dr Javed Jamil is a thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough” and “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”. Other works include “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism”, “The Essence of the Divine Verses”, “The Killer Sex”, “Islam means Peace” and “Rediscovering the Universe”. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 91-8130340339. https://twitter.com/javedjamil