By Zuber Sachora
Referring to a recent series of articles titled “Modinama” praising Narendra Modi by Madhu Kishwar a well-known social activist in her periodical “Manushi” in which she recalls that she had all along viewed Narendra Modi as a communal leader complicit in the post Godhra violence in Gujarat in 2002. However, she never had a first-hand account of Gujarat and thus she decided to visit Gujarat herself to carry out an in-depth research to find out the truth about Narendra Modi. After an intense exercise of talking to the Gujarati Muslims, Madhu was convinced that all the hoopla against Narendra Modi was prejudiced and one sided. She further notes that the Gujarti Muslims had nothing to do with all the anti-Modi tirade and in-fact the top Modi detractors were neither Gujaratis nor Muslims. Madhu also tries to establish that Modi does have acceptability among Muslims and they also remain impressed with his governance style. She has cited the examples of Maulana Gulam Vastanvi, Shahid Siddiqui – the Editor of Nai Duniya and Zafer Sareshwala, a Gujarati businessman in her article.
She has presented the interview of Zafar Sareshwala in ‘Modinama’ at length in order to validate her point. Zafar, a devout Muslim shares his experience during the interview recalling how he had launched a campaign against Narendra Modi to deny his entry in the UK and also initiate legal proceedings against him in the international courts for what happened in Gujarat in 2002. In due course of time he got his chance to speak to Narendra Modi in UK in 2003 when his friend Mahesh Bhatt a noted film-maker arranged a meeting with him with the help of his journalist friend Rajat Sharma. At the end of meeting, which lasted for about 90 minutes, Zafar has completely changed his understanding of Narendra Modi. Today Zafar has a positive opinion about Narendra Modi and there is an increasing number of Muslims who share similar opinions about Narendra Modi.
Are Muslims truly standing with Narendra Modi?
To understand that whether Muslims are truly standing with Narendra Modi or not, it is imperative to understand what Modi truly stands for. Narendra Modi believes in the ideology of cultural nationalism, an ideology which asserts that anything with Indian or Hindu cultural roots is worth idolizing while any foreign influence needs elimination by hook or crook. Islam was thus viewed by this ideology as a foreign invasion which attacked the cultural fabric of the country and infested it for hundreds of years. It is a matter of common sense to be noticed that the antagonistic approach against Islam had a political agenda rather a religious one. This can be validated from the fact that Golwalkar, who knit this idea of Hindutva which is the founding philosophy of RSS, himself was an atheist. While forming such views for Islam, it was conveniently ignored that Islam had found a very receptive appeal among the hearts of millions in the Indian subcontinent. This very hatred against Islam lead to hatred for Muslims and went to such an extent that it could not even acknowledge the fact that their subjects of hatred were as much Indians as they were. This very hatred resulted into the partition of India and Pakistan and this very ideology raised voices for Uniform Civil Code so as to deny Muslims their personal laws in the matters
like marriage and inheritance leading to exhortion of Muslims by not allowing them to recite their prayers in Arabic as it is not an Indian language and also refrain them from visiting holy Makkah and Medina owing to their non-Indian locations. The political parties arising out of this ideology continued their tirade against Islams and Muslims. Not only Muslims, it would be even difficult for the ordinary Indians having their faith in the Indian constitution to side with such ideology. Then how could this very face of this ideology Narendra Modi find acceptance among Muslims???
To this question, the Modi supporters have a straight answer that Narendra Modi never sided anyone in 2002 and as claimed by Madhu Kishwar, he was fresh into office and had little control over the administration and had never played appeasement politics but instead worked for the betterment of all which favored the Muslim community. These answers are definitely not convincing as for a person who had dedicated his entire life in playing important roles in an organization like RSS. Even if one were to believe that he had no involvement in the 2002 aftermath, his time in the government was not a smooth sailing for the Muslim community.
It is during this time that the problem of ghettoization aggravated further among Muslims. Even today, Muslims are not permitted to buy properties in the localities inhabited by Hindus. The Central Government Scholarships were made elusive to the Muslims by the Modi Government citing flimsy excuses of appeasement politics. Whatever strides Muslims have made today in the field of education was inspite of the tyranny of Modi Government as no grants were awarded to newly created educational institutions managed by the Muslims, organisations working to exhort the message of Islam and the Madrasas have always been kept under the tight vigil of intelligence thus instilling a sense of insecurity among them. The much touted idea of no incidents of communal violence since 2002 is a misnomer. An recent incident reported by Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad about the harassments faced by the Muslim traders and businessmen is an burning live example. Torching Muslim properties, rounding up of Muslim youths by policemen and the insecurity among the Muslim community has been a common feature under Modi’s rule.
Though Muslims have indeed been a part of the mainstream Gujarati society but none can deny the fact that they live under constant current of fear and insecurity. How can a Muslims living in such a state of insecurity can make Modi acceptable to Muslims. And now the answers for the revelations of Zafar Sareshwala in his interview for Modinama. Sareshwala did the heroics of taking on Modi while he was in UK but must have soon realized that there was no point in taking the government of the day especially when you are running a large span of businesses in financial services, real estate, automobiles among others. Running a large business corporation indeed makes Sareshwala a success story among the Gujarati Muslims. He has gone on records to say that their family business had to face a lot of hostility during the events of riots. This must have prompted him to call the truce with Narendra Modi. It was after all a win-win situation. On one hand, Narendra Modi was to be liberated from the unwanted legal clutches and on the other hand he had a chance to show a Muslim friendly face to the world and in turn Zafar had the advantage of not inviting wrath of the mighty force and thus protect his business. And the fact that the intimidating nature of Hindutva forces have forced him to call the quits cannot be ignored. Maulana Gulam Wastanvi, a muslim with Gujarati roots also has a similar case. He runs a chain of educational institutions in Akkalkuva, Maharashtra and has similar plans for Gujarat as well. It would be
therefore unwise for him to be hostile to Narendra Modi and thus tries to find chances to shower praises on Modi even if he finds no conviction in it. Modi also realizes that in order to reach to the coveted seat of Prime-Minister ship he needs to find favour with Muslims, no matter how insignificant it is. The matter of the fact is that there is a section among Muslim community who want to seize this opportunity and thus benefit from the whole game. They are the ones who lend their support to Modi to satisfy their opportunism. The disillusionment of muslims with the Gujarat congress may be one other factor of Modis acceptability among few of the Muslims. The plight of the Muslims needs to be attributed more to the Congress party than the BJP owing to their long duration in governments. This section finds Modi less dangerous than his counterparts in the Congress. There is one more section among Muslims which believes that there is a relative peace in Gujarat after 2002 as the perpetrators themselves are ruling the state. It is therefore wise to vote BJP and thus avoid their hostility arising out of frustration of being away from rule.
Even if one wants to bring all the Modi supporters together, they would form a small portion of the Muslim community who still don’t trust Modi. If Modi wants to win their trust then he has a lot to do. Firstly, he will have to abandon the ideology of hatemongering and then he would have to see to it that all the perpetrators of crimes and violence during his era are brought to justice. He would be required to play an active role in providing equal opportunities to Muslims to flourish in the field of education and business. He also needs to ensure equal civic rights to them but not his elevation of the Prime-ministerial berth would help him to restore trust in this community. The ones who talk about Ramrajya should be aware that there should be no place of fear in Ramrajya. Let only the time decide whether Modi would be able to remain true to the values of Ramrajya, democracy and the Humanity or not.
(Zuber Sachora is a Student from Gujarat)
I disagree with the title itself it should be “Are any right minded human beings truly standing with Modi”? Why Muslims only, there are so many non-muslims who think as humans not as any specific community and are not with him.
be specific.. dont take any muslims opinion , take only gujrat muslims opinion . other state people can not understand how another state is running.
ok , modi will not do any special facility to the muslims to get vote as congress party men do , he will do equal facility to each of the countrymen irrespective of their religion. and writer very much tried to prove that the muslims praised modi praised on their own interest ( very offending to muslim community i think ) but could not give any instance where gujrati muslims maligned modi.
It is very obvious from the vote share that Muslims are not voting for Modi’s BJP. His vote share has gone down and the Congress vote share has increased, in the recent state elections. If Muslims who did not vote earlier if now voted for him, the share should have gone up for BJP and decreased for Congress. A few Muslims praising Modi, or his publicity team telling that now Muslims are also voting for him, is definitely not evident or convincing. Unless Modi apologises for the human tragedy and he takes action on the culprits even if they were close to him, such opinions may not change, even if we believe that he was not directing the in-human acts of the masses, misusing the Police machinery.
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