AAP strikes a chord with Muslims

FPJ BureauUpdated: Saturday, June 01, 2019, 03:08 PM IST
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Muslims were both apprehensive and wary of Arvind Kejriwal when he was with Anna Hazare.  That apprehension was along the expected lines because the latter’s tilt towards the right wing was more than apparent.  But that one master move of Kejriwal, to break free from the Hazare camp and take a full-fledged plunge into the thick of politics, paved the way for making inroads into the Muslim community.

 Another crucial factor was the very timing of the emergence of the party – last autumn’s communal rioting in Muzaffarnagar and its aftermath paved the way for disillusionment with the two main political parties, which had, in the previous years, grabbed the Muslim vote – the Congress and the Samajwadi Parties.  In fact, in these recent months, I have been hearing angry one-liners against the Samajwadi Party.  Just recently, the students of Aligarh Muslim University did not allow Mulayam Singh Yadav to enter the AMU campus.  His scheduled address at a seminar in the university campus had to be cancelled as there were widespread protests by both teachers and students upon the announcement of his visit.

Though anger against the Congress Party isn’t as severe as with the SP, the feeling of being let down persists.  Interestingly though, there could have been a tilt  in favour of Rahul Gandhi, but the aggrieved Muslims have been left asking – What good has the Congress done for us?  Beyond bogus promises, there seems to be nothing at all!  The Congress Party could have intervened when rioting peaked in Muzaffarnagar and when hapless Muslims ran for cover, transformed into refugees in their own land.

As for the disillusionment with the Congress, it has been nursed for several years. In fact, it could be timed with the destruction of the Babri Masjid and the aftermath.  That disillusionment has only been compounded over these last two decades.  The whitewashing process set in motion by the Congress with the setting up of the Sachar Committee started to pale because of the virtual blank at the implementation stage.  This has left the community not just thoroughly disappointed, but asking whether the entire exercise was a mere teaser! The facts stand out, baring the stark reality – the Muslim community has been lagging on all fronts and yet the government of the day has done nothing substantial to help improve any of the prevailing conditions.

And where the right wing parties are concerned, it is relevant to mention that the BJP claims of Muslims joining them are nothing short of deception. Maybe, there are afew opportunist elements in their fold.  Also, it is relevant to mention here some of the deceit tactics used by the right wing.To quote the former DGP of Gujarat, R B Sreekumar, who also holds the distinction of being the first whistleblower cop against Modi, in several of its rallies, the BJP uses Muslim symbols – burqas, skull caps, prayer beads – with the intention of falsely showing Muslim presence!’

Connecting with AAP

With the community’s disillusionment with the other political parties, there’d been an ongoing vacuum.  The AAP seems to have filled that space. Its connect with the Muslim community took off rather too spontaneously, when last fortnight, Arvind  Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav made it apparent that for them, the very term corruption extends to the communal elements in the political arena.  Kejriwal minced no words, saying rather too bluntly that Narendra  Modi stands out as a communal politician.

It’s been a turning point for even those who were fence-sitters and unsure of Kejriwal, now seem all for AAP.  Of course, together with Kejriwal’s anti-Modi stand, the fact that he is talking of the ‘bijli-paani- sadak’ issues, has helped build the connect.  For let’s not overlook the fact that a great majority of the Muslim population in the northern belt of this country survives in ghettos and in the under-developed ‘bastis and mohallas’ and so Kejriwal comes as a saviour.  He is talking of relevant issues, which affect their  daily lives.

And if one could highlight that one glaring negative in the AAP format – not one well-known Muslim as an AAP leader – there’ s this rejoinder that one hears -‘ In a democracy it isn’t necessary to have a Hindu or Muslim or Christian leader.  The leader can be from any community, he or she has to be honest and sincere and secular and the rest follows.’

Humra   Quraishi

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