If appealing to voters on communal lines was a good enough reason to disqualify a party, as former Prime Minister V.P. Singh has asked the Election Commission, then all the so-called secular parties should have long been disbanded. The Samajwadi Party'selection manifesto for the Uttar Pradesh election reads like the charter of demands of the pre-Partition Muslim League. Yadav'sparty in fact harbours some of the most despicable communal elements, whom even the Muslim League would be wary of touching with a bargepole. The character who had announced a ransom for killing the Danish cartoonist was a honourable member of the Mulayam Singh government.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi launched his campaign in UP from that hotbed of Muslim communalism?Deoband?with a self-satisfying claim that the Babri Masjid would not have been demolished, had a member of the Gandhi family been in power. This was a brazen appeal to Muslim vote bank to back the Gandhi
family for protection and progress. We have the sight of the UPA Prime Minister telling the National Development Council that Muslims have the first right to national resources, though India is a secular country.
Strange are the ways of Indian politicians. For the first time in post-independent India, Dr Manmohan Singh is presiding over a cabinet, which has a Muslim League man as a member. And almost on a daily basis this government has been taking steps, the primary objective of which is to entice the Muslim or Christian vote banks. To cite the latest example, on March 28, Union Human Resources Minister Arjun Singh told the universities in the country that they would be provided with extra funds, ?special development grant?, if they had a higher number of students and teachers from the minority communities. A week earlier, a circular went out from the Finance Ministry, under instruction from the Prime Minister'sOffice, to initiate a Muslim-specific exercise to disburse loans and communalise the financial institutions in the country. We are citing only a few examples here.
The Congress Party is in a fierce competition with the Samajwadi Party and the CPM on the Muslim appeasement binge in UP. In its efforts to woo the fanatic elements it is willing to undermine national security, withdraw security forces from Jammu and Kashmir and protect the terrorists who committed heinous crimes like the Mumbai and Sankat Mochan temple blasts and the Parliament attack.
The competitive minorityism of the Samajwadi Party and the Congress should have come under the scrutiny of the Election Commission for their sectarian appeal. But in the name of secularism it is permissive.
The UPA has cynically injected a vicious brand of communalism in the Indian polity with the hope that en bloc Muslim votes will permanently become its captive preserve. The insincerity and dishonesty of this Muslim appeasement is underlined by the poor record of its implementation. On ameliorating the genuine grievances of the Muslims both the Congress and the Communist-ruled states project a dubious record. Similar is the sub-text written by more virulent votaries of vote bank politics like Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad Yadav.
During the Bihar election last year, another colleague of Dr Manmohan Singh dressed up like a moulvi, accompanied by a Bin Ladan lookalike and campaigned to make only a Muslim the chief minister of the state. At this point also, no secular firman was issued against that blatant display of communalism, in the election campaign. The Election Commission conveniently looked the other way. In the Kerala election, last year, the CPM extensively used Saddam Hussein and terrorist Madani posters in the company of NDF, Jamaat-e-Islami and SIMI, projecting itself more Islamic than the Muslim League. This religious appeal helped the CPM make astonishing inroads into the Muslim League bastions in Malappuram.
Coming back to the election scene in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP that presented the most secular and development-oriented manifesto in this round of election is being accused of Hindutva propaganda. And helpfully the Election Commission has taken notice. Political pundits in all the major newspapers had commented how the BJP had responded to popular aspirations and underplayed temple and Ayodhya and reflected a wider perspective to take the state out of the morass of underdevelopment, casteism and communalism. The party manifesto is a development agenda and a vision document for rebuilding the state.
But the furore raised by V.P. Singh, Padmashri (thanks to the anti-Modi tirade) Teesta Setalwad and their cohorts over an election CD allegedly made by the BJP has exposed the duplicity of the pseudo-secular brigade once again. The BJP has disowned the CD. But that has not satisfied the critics. The party has withdrawn it and punished the worker who inadvertently released it to the press. Yet the advocates of minorityism are not pacified. They want the BJP'srecognition as a political party to be withdrawn. And after all what is there in the CD? It is supposed to be a Hindutva overdrive. It said, according to media reports, Hindu girls are lured into wedlock by Muslim youths with support from Muslim clerics. That all the terrorist attacks were the handiwork of Muslim terror outfits sponsored from across the border. It said, again according to reports, that madrasas are the hatcheries of terrorism and yet Mulayam Singh and the UPA continue to fund them. The Prime Minister says the Muslims have first right to resources, what should Hindus do? Leave the country? We have a system where anything said or done for the minority vote bank even if it violates the Constitution is legal. But any complaint about their consequences to the Hindus or the nation is condemned as communal and violative of the Representation of People'sAct. Parties get away appealing for votes in the name of Yadav, Jat, Dalit and Brahmin. But Hindu is taboo.
The BJP should have been careful not to incur the EC'swrath. Now, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has announced religion-based reservations to Muslims and Christians over and above the 69 per cent reservation already in existence in the state. Any Hindu-sensitive party, instead of complaining about what the minority-obsessed parties are doing for Muslims in violation of the constitutional norms and fair play, should now adopt a policy of aggressively initiating programmes meant only for the Hindus. It is not enough to teach Yoga and make Vande Mataram compulsory. Hindus need empowerment. Rather, they should confront the pseudo-secularists with pro-active Hindu social and economic rehabilitation programmes. That'sis the only antidote to the virus of minorityism.
A factual narration of the state of affairs the UPA has created for the Hindus in this country is not merely a poll-eve campaign theme. These columns have repeatedly drawn attention to these aspects of secular distortion and vote bank insensitivity. Ironically, Hindutva is only a byproduct of minorityism. Face it squarely, for facts are stranger than fiction. Sometimes they hit you harder on the face.