The UPA government'sappeasement policy that is crude and outright communal, will cause more harm than good by pitting community against community, creating big divide, cultivating resentment categorising society along religious lines besides having serious implications on national security. There are no two ways about the fact that the Congress led UPA government'sconsciously chosen appeasement policy based on religion and community militates against the very principle of democracy that India is so proud of.
Having made Muslim appeasement and vote-bank politics as the plank of its governance, the Congress party is playing havoc with the national interest. Couching crass minoritism in the language of minority welfare, the UPA has made its political agenda of ?Muslims first? rather than ?India first? so very clear. This is of a piece with the Congress? policy of wooing Muslims that dates back to Khilafat Movement of 1921 with the elections in UP just round the corner, the party'scongenital tendency to enamour the Muslim voters has acquired a new urgency. But this lopsided focus on granting quotas to one community will in the long run cause more harm than good in addition to compromising our national interests. Significantly, it will be a gross mistake to give a community precedence over others with the lofty goal of seeking for a polarisation of votes. Indeed, two clear themes emerge from Congress? pandering to minorities interests. First, the party is desperate to win back Muslim votes that it has lost in the beginning of nineties when it bacame a mute witness to the Babri structure demolition. Second, it is trying hard to demonstrate that Congress is the ultimate saviour of minorities by beguiling them to believe that their ?safety? as well as interests are best secured by it.
In fact, there is a gross failure to appreciate that promoting one community at the expanse of others will end up flaring communal attitudes besides having a debilitating effect on our national interests. By doling out welfare packages designed solely to benefit Muslims the Congress is following a dangerous trend that runs the risk of kindling divisive sentiments and consequently jeopardising the country'ssecurity interests.
Indeed, there has been a competition among different political parties to offer sops to Muslims in a bid to garner votes.
In a way, the Congress party'spolitics of appeasement doesn'thold any surprises for any one. Its hidden agenda of Muslim appeasement as an instrument of state policy goes back to pre-Partition days.
The Congress reached new heights when Rajiv Gandhi overturned the Supreme Court'sjudgment on the issue of maintenance to Muslim divorcee, Shahbano. Even after the party came to power in 2004, its leaders have been vociferously demanding Muslim quotas, in pursuance of vote-bank politics. UPA government'srecent decision to increase the Haj subsidy proves?if proof was ever needed that the progressive alliance is in the front rank of demonstrating its ?progressive? credentials. The Centre'scapitulation to Muslim votes, even in the teeth of opposition from Muslim leaders, who have finally seen through the Congress? dirty games, reveals the desperation of its leadership to win back Muslims. On immediately coming back to power, the Centre didn'tthink twice before dismissing four Governors who had been appointed by the previous NDA government on the argument they owed allegiance to RSS. What came as a surprise was the inclusion of a Muslim League representative in the Union Council of Ministers, for the first time in the history of independent India. The recklessness of the Congress and its allies became evident with the appointment of Banerjee Committee on Godhra episode, even as a Fact Finding Commission had already unearthed some ugly facts. Consequently, Banerjee Commission of Inquiry, in its eagerness to mop over those very facts declared that the fire inside the compartment was not due to conspiracy but merely an accident.
In fact, in its zeal to accommodate Muslim interests, the Congress was ready even to sacrifice national interests on many occasions. It was clearly a communalisation of governmental policy which saw the announcement of religion based reservation in educational institutions as well as corporate houses. It is a sad commentary on the UPA'sfunctioning that there are reservations for Muslims but not for Kashmiri Pandits, who are living as refugees in their own country where their condition is more deplorable than the poorest of Muslims in India. There is no one to care for the basic human rights of Pandits? While a Farooq, Mulayam, Paswan and others of their ilk may weep and moan about the so-called ?atrocities? heaped on Muslims, there is no one to wipe the tears of beleaguered community that was forced into the exodus.
The sanctioning of illegal immigration of Bangladeshis into eastern India was acquiesced by successive Congress governments on the plea that they were Muslims. This retrogressive practice, fraught with the dangers of transforming India'sdemographic character will ultimately have a bearing on its national security. The fact that the singing of the Vande Mataram, India'snational song that has inspired freedom fighters down the ages, was banned due to the objection of Muslim leaders on the basis of religious identity, smacks of communal connotations. It goes without saying that the UPA government has designed appeasement policy for the explicit purpose of grabbing Muslim votes. The decision to appoint the Rajender Sachar Committee to look into the conditions of the community is a case in point. At the National Development Committee meeting, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh declared that Muslims are first claimant to national resources. This once again proves that Congress led UPA government can stoop to any level to appease minorities. ?We will have to devise innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly Muslims, are empowered to share equitably in the fruits of development. They must have first claim on resources,? Dr Singh said. In fact, this observation made by him came close on the heels of Sachar Committee Report.
In its perverse zeal to appease Muslims, the UPA has given out the impression that it is soft on Islamic terrorist elements who are out to destroy India. This signal has gone down well with the terrorists in India giving then enough leeway to repeat the incidents of violence again and again. In an attempt to pamper Muslims, the government has unwittingly strengthened fanatic fundamentalist forces, which pose a danger to the stability of the country.
Repealing of POTA on the basis that it was anti-Muslim was one such instance, which acted as a booster for terrorists. The demand for release of prime accused in the Coimbatore case where more than 59 persons were killed as well as withdrawal of charges against hardcore terrorists have yielded the much needed space to these elements. The death sentence awarded to Mohammad Afzal for his plot to attack Parliament in 2001 took the hue of Muslim sentiment. Muslims were so high strung that Ghulam Nabi Azad, the CM of J&K had to voice his opposition to the court verdict in an emotionally soaked tone.
While indulging in politics of Muslim appeasement on one hand, the government is also simultaneously busy bending backwards when it comes to Pakistan aided terrorism. It is somewhat surprising that the UPA government has agreed to a joint mechanism on terror with Pakistan, keeping in view that the country itself has been a source of terror in India. By suggesting that both India and Pakistan are victims of terrorism. PM Dr Singh has nonchalantly diluted the January 2004 commitment of General Musharraf whereby he had pledged to stop using Pakistan for export of terror into India. Going by the same policy the UPA leadership trashed the meticulous investigations made by the Mumbai Police Commissioner probing Pakistan'srole in Mumbai blasts. Also, hardcore evidence pertaining to the same was not presented at the Foreign Secretary level talks. All these instances indicate that Congress? infatuation with Muslims dictates policy decisions of the government, which is a dangerous sign when seen through the prism of national interest.
It is high time for the government to get real and practical otherwise it will have to pay dearly for the blunder of appeasement.
(The writer is senior columnist.)