Congress and its allies have not learnt any lesson from the drubbing they got in Punjab, Uttarakhand and the civic polls across the country in recent months. They are cynically encouraging the revival of Muslim separatism and segregation of that community from the national mainstream.
What else can explain the latest CPM embrace of Muslim manifesto shedding all pretensions of steering clear of the communal politics pursued by the Congress? The party, so far, was not openly supportive of the obnoxious Sachar Committee report. The CPM under the late EMS Namboodiripad had forced the All India Muslim League out of the Left Front in Kerala in the nineties to refurbish the party'ssecular credentials. But the party for the last two years has been openly wooing all the communal formations in Kerala, like the outlawed SIMI, NDF of Madani and Jamaat-e-Islami, in its bid for power. The CPM has been competing with the Congress to woo the more fanatic among Muslims. For this it organised bandhs to protest the controversial Danish cartoons, hanging of Saddam Hussein and the American attack on Iraq. It opposed Indo-US nuclear deal because that, it explained, would weaken Iran'sdefence of its Islamic bomb. It supports Pakistani terrorism and the absurd clamour against Afzal hanging, because it believes, Muslims will appreciate such solidarity.
Last month, the West Bengal Left Front government accorded second official language status to Urdu, though very few in the state speak that language.
The West Bengal government'sland acquisition policy for attracting big business had triggered a Muslim exodus from the party as was witnessed in the case of Nandigram. The party perhaps hopes to arrest this desertion by pandering to more fanatics in the community by openly declaring allegiance to the divisive agenda propounded through the Sachar report. The community forming a quarter of the state population was the captive vote-bank of the CPM.
The so-called Charter of Demands for the Advancement of Muslim Community released by the CPM is a dangerous document reminiscent of the Muslim League demands under Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Apart from focussing on a communal quota for Dalit Muslims?a term that violates the basic tenet of Islam, which professes equality of all members of the faith?the charter has other dubious demands like introducing a sub-plan only for Muslims for allocating separate development funds on communal lines. The party is not satisfied with this year'sbudget allocation of Rs. 500 crore for Muslim welfare. The wholesale adoption of the Sachar report by the CPM appears ridiculous considering the abysmal record of the party in Kerala and West Bengal in the social uplift of the Muslim community, as underlined in the report. But the CPM'sMuslim courtship in Kerala is so brazen that it has left the Muslim League way behind in communal appeal. The Muslim League is being asked to prove its pro-Muslim character by more zealous outfits ensconced under the CPM perch.
Encouraged by the indulgence of the UPA, Muslim outfits have become so emboldened as to take out a procession in the capital demanding state-wise quotas in proportion to their population. Almost all the known Muslim organisations have come on one platform to seek full implementation of religion-based reservation in jobs, education and growth fund allocation all over the country. The UPA and the Sachar report have clearly uncorked the jinn of pre-Partition communal virus into the national politics.
Jinnah had a 16-point charter of demands when he first confronted the Congress in 1916. The CPM has a 23-point charter with concrete proposals for the centre'sconsideration for creating a separate Muslim constituency ! The Muslim rally in the capital had a strong echo of the CPM general secretary Prakash Karat'sadvise to the UPA, ?not to allow itself to be browbeaten or succumb to the propaganda about minority appeasement?. Strong counsel that is.
The country cannot afford to be mute to this sudden and frenzied communal carnival. The patriotic forces have to close their ranks and challenge this insensitive promotion of identity politics.