Saturday, August 26, 2006

The mess the UPA is creating
By M.V. Kamath
An earnest prayer to the UPA is: Kindly stop dividing people. It is unbecoming of you. The British in their time did it and we know with what consequences. Let it not be said that like the Bourbons, the Congress has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing.
It is painful to say so, but it has to be said before it is too late. The Congress-led UPA government is leading the country into a mess from which, if immediate action is not taken, it may become very hard to extricate ourselves. This is stated more in sadness than in anger. To the ordinary citizen it is not which party is in power but which party is exerting to keep the people together in the pursuit of peace, prosperity and national unity above all.

In this regard the Congress failure is writ all over its face. And the reaction is, to state it in plain terms, frightening. National unity is not achieved through dividing society into castes, forward, backward or scheduled. It is not achieved by insisting on reservations to particular castes or communities not only in educational institutions but even in private enterprises. That is not government. That is plain dictatorship. It only spurs deep resentment and discontent among people to no one’s advantage. To openly talk about increased appointment of Muslims in the Armed Forces is to make Muslims more conscious of their religious attachments and create a sense of unwantedness in their minds.

Alienation among Muslims is growing to the point that in Uttar Pradesh, a group of Muslim outfits have launched their own Islamic political party misleadingly called Peoples Democratic Front. Their charge is that all these years Muslims have been treated as a vote bank by various political parties and they will not stand it any longer. Muslim separatism is raising its ugly head all over again.

It may be worth remembering that the last time the Leftists were in power in Kerala they helped redraw district boundaries so that within the State there will be at least one district which has a Muslim majority. Now a section of Muslims in Andhra Pradesh is demanding that should the State be further divided with the creation of Telangana, then Hyderabad city must be given the status of a ‘City State’, presumably with a Muslim majority. People have stopped thinking of themselves as Indians. They are coming to think of themselves as Muslims or members of this or that community.

Even as the proposed Peoples’ Democratic Front(PDF) was getting organised, its self-appointed chairman, Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, a prominent Shia cleric was talking of how the Uttar Pradesh government of Mulayam Singh Yadav was biased. As Jawwad saw the situation, in recent times as many as 1,800 constables were recruited by the State of whom nearly 1,000 were Yadavs and only 30 (thirty) Muslims. Jawwad is reported as saying: “If the seven per cent Yadavs in the State and 12 per cent Dalits can occupy power in Uttar Pradesh, why can’t the 22 per cent Muslims do so?” This exclusiveness is spreading and is getting the support of important Muslim leaders like the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, Ahmed Bukhari who has been named as the PDF’s patron. At this rate we will soon have parties not based on economic ideologies, but on caste, creed and religion.

The move to form a separate Islamic political party should not be treated lightly. The message will spread fast. Attending the meeting held to establish the PDF were some important Muslim leaders like the Imam of Masjid Teela Shah, president of the Jamat-e-Islami, President of the Majlis-e-Mashawarat, President of the All-India Muslim Forum, President of Parcham Party and President of the Indian National Muslim League.

The original Muslim League led by M.A.Jinnah went about systematically to destroy the unity of India that was eventually to lead to Partition, wholesale bloodshed and ethnic cleansing in what became Pakistan and that decades-old hatred has still not died out. What the PDF will do is anybody’s guess. But the nation is warned.

The Muslim League did poorly in the 1937 elections to the Legislative Assemblies. It is also true that in the late thirties and early forties it was the British raj that was in power and which encouraged Islamic separatism. But when Muslims continue to think of themselves as a neglected minority and apply themselves to the task of demanding all sorts of benefits, rightly or wrongly, the nation will be forced to pay a heavy price.

Minoritism is an evil that should under no circumstances be tolerated. Caste or religion-based political parties should be immediately banned. They are a menace to the unity of India.

The UPA government has stooped to such a low level of politicising religion that the Union Minister for Minority Affairs, Shri A.R.Antulay seems determined to impart—or impose—minority status on Jains, who have not even asked for it.

As recently as August 2005, a Supreme Court Bench, comprising of then Chief Justice, Shri R.C.Lahoti and Justices D.M.Dharmadhikari and P.K.Balasubrahmanyam had directed the national and State-level Minority Commissions to find ways of first reducing and ultimately ending the listing of notified minorities, rather than increasing them. In India there are no minorities. There are only Indians. And any political party based on religious grounds must be immediately banned, no matter under what misleading title it is formed.

The trouble is that the Congress appears to have lost all sense of direction. Knowing what led to Partition, the Congress should have been the first to discourage minoritism under any guise. Even to have a Minority Ministry is itself symbolic of a mindset out to divide people.

The PDF wants to know how come so few Muslims were chosen as constables in Uttar Pradesh. It should have first checked out how many Muslims did, in fact, apply for the jobs in the constabulary and of them how many were eligible. It is sixty years since India became free. In these sixty years what did the Muslim leadership do to create jobs for Muslims? Was it necessary to set up madrasas in every town and village when the demand is increasingly not for knowing how many passages from the Quran one can recite but how good is the youngster at mathematics? When will Muslims understand that to get on in life one must get on with modernity?

The UPA government must spend lavishly on setting up primary schools and encourage every low-income family to send its sons and daughters to get higher education by providing financial incentives. In due course—say, a couple of decades—minority students, so-called will be able to gain self-confidence and get seats in institutes of higher learning in their own rights. For a nation some 10,000 years old, a couple of decades count for nothing. An earnest prayer to the UPA is: Kindly stop dividing people. It is unbecoming of you. The British in their time did it and we know with what consequences. Let it not be said that like the Bourbons, the Congress has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. This is not a party matter. It deals with the vary essence of national unity and concerns all of us determined to stop further divisions of the country.


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