By: Rajibul Alam
Electoral politics in a democracy is meant to choose the best individuals to run the government in the territory. The best are those whose policies and policy implementation mechanisms are accepted and supported by the majority of the population in the territory. But the irony in a democracy is the term ‘majority’. The existence of the term ‘majority’ for obvious reason creates a term called ‘minority’ in the context of electoral politics. Ideally the divide should be on the line of proposed policy measures and the proposed mechanisms to implement those. The group whose policies are accepted and supported by the majority population forms the government and represent the majority views, while the other group forms the opposition and represents the minority views. But inherent tendency of human beings to keep the authority for forever, people, especially the ‘elite class’, that is the combined group representatives of majority and minority views, have invented many mechanisms in last few centuries. One of the new mechanism of such real politik is defining the terms ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ on religious line rather than on policy lines and India has been a fertile land for such kind of politics where majority and minority views are segregated on religious line.
Segregation of majority views and minority views on policy line is a pure democratic mechanism and the mechanism is very unstable. During any election, a large group of people who previously supported the policies of a particular political group can swing to support the policies of the opposition group and thus the previous opposition group can from the new government. This is the essence of democracy. However, segregation of majority views and minority views in terms of religious affinity is a very stable mechanism as people’s religious affinity hardly changes. Although in a democratic system, politics based on religious segregation can never lead a minority religious group to the government formation, but it is always an easy and permanent strategy for top leaders of the minority group to get into the opposition’s domain which forms a sub-group of the ‘elite class’. India has witnessed such sort of politics since its inception. The creation of Pakistan had already created bitterness between the majority and minority religious groups of the sub-continent. In the subsequent years, taking advantage of such bitterness and owing to a large chunk of Muslim population in India, political groups and leaders have emerged in India whose political views are hardly different from their religious views. These leaders representing both Hindus and Muslims have minimum risk of losing their voters constituency for their wrong policies or precisely no policies as people are connected to them through religious views which are constant. Thus this ‘elite class’ consisting of political leaders from both communities have been blessed for being elected repeatedly without significant performances either being a part of the government or being a part of the opposition.
In view of the above analysis, it is very clear that the kind of politics that have been practised by a large chunk of political leaders from both the communities, Hindus and Muslims, has been disadvantageous to both communities as these leaders have not been made accountable for their performances. Years after years, these leaders stand tall with their strong politico-religious narratives without doing the basic job of representatives to debate the policies and issues in a significant way. This has thus created large gaps between the potentials and achievements of both the communities and the nation as a whole. For this reason, this kind of divisive politics is a crime to the nation if not to the communities.
In the context of India, the onus is now on the Muslims to give a halt to the divisive politics. In a democracy it is never possible for a political group to form the government only with the support of a minority group. There has been no such example in the democracies around the world. Indeed it is not possible. In the concept of democracy itself, forming of government needs the support of majority population. So it is very high time Indian Muslims understand this. With around fourteen percent of the total population, a Muslim political party or a political party with strong narratives against the political parties and organizations having inclination towards majority Hindu population can never come to the power. The direct benefit of such Muslim politics goes to a section of top Muslim leaders who forms an oligarchy by getting elected years after years only through narratives. However more dangerous is the virtual benefit that goes to the political leaders claiming to be the protectors of the Hindus as they also form an oligarchy by getting elected years after years only by reacting to the narratives of the Muslim leaders. Rather than to work for nation building and organizing people for a common cause, the Hindu oligarchs use narratives against Muslim oligarchs as a weapon to win elections as it is an easier way. Similarly though the Muslim oligarchs know that their kind of politics actually benefits the Hindu oligarchs and harmful to their community itself yet they practice it for their smooth and continuous journey into the ‘elite class ’. Though such political practice by some political leaders from both the communities is equally harmful to the nation and communities themselves yet cumulative loss is more for the majority community as more number of people is barred from the benefit of progressive politics. Even then Muslims are in a more adverse situation owing to their comparatively small population as they are being cornered by majoritarian politics.
Hence it is high time for Muslims to understand their priorities. They should follow the examples of Jews of the US and Parsis of India. Jews of US constitutes only around 2 percent of America’s total population. Yet American Jews group is one of the most influential political lobbies of the US. It has become possible only through the economic advancement. So Indian Muslims should now concentrate on their education, skill development and entrepreneurship. This is the only way for Indian Muslims to catch the new age generation. It would contribute to eradicate poverty and increase employability as well as would reduce unemployment rate of the nation too.
Indian Muslims need to understand that only electing few oligarchs repeatedly would not do any great thing for them. Even after electing 482 MPs since 1947, Mandal Commission report says that the conditions of the Muslims are not better than the Dalits in India. So in the name of representing the Muslim community, they are not doing anything other than getting elected in elections after elections. In fact, India is the nation where such segregation of representation for different communities is not dreamt by founding fathers. Rather it was dreamt that India as a nation would elect the most perfect individuals as the representatives for the entire population.
To increase the literacy rate and employability among the Muslims, they do not need few representatives in the opposition bench through divisive politics. What they need is the main streaming of the community so that divisive leaders from both the communities, Hindus and Muslims can’t take advantages of the segregation. In other words, Muslims needs to be as politically silent as Parsis in India and as politically strategic as the American Jews. If one applies minimum common sense, it becomes clear that if the Muslim community can’t elect a Prime Minister of their own through the politics of isolation, then what is the need of such divisive politics. It is then better to get politically main-streamed and create leaders of optimum potential because many democracies have shown that an able leader can reach the highest position even if he belongs to a minority community. Dr Man Mohan Singh and Barack Obama are two best examples of such phenomena.
In critical time like ours, Indian Muslims need to understand that in the name of representing their voice, few oligarchs have been just cheating on them. Indian Muslims do not need a political voice with themselves arrested in high illiteracy, unemployment and low entrepreneurial rate. Instead, if Indian Muslims accumulates enough wealth through innovative entrepreneurship, they can create political voice for themselves rather than begging one. And this awareness has to be from within the common Muslims as unawareness has always benefitted the elites of both the communities.