If not Democracy, then what?

Anti-CAA demonstrations took a violent turn in some Muslim dominated districts of the country. Rowdy crowds have inflicted huge damages on public property. This raises an important question. Have the people of this country taken to the spirit of democracy during the seventy-three years of popular governance? In the course of its long stint in power since independence, the Congress has been claiming with great élan that it is making an enviable experiment of moderating Indian Muslims by using a proven tool called secular democratic dispensation as is enshrined in the Constitution. The objective has been to help the Muslim community integrate into the national mainstream. In other words, Congress meant to assert that Islam and democracy/secular democracy, seemingly a contradiction in terms, are reconcilable. The intentions were unassailable, and as a matter of simple logic, if any segment of Indian Muslims doubts or contradicts the paradigm, the logic will not be on their side.

Nevertheless, the sudden outburst, first at three or four universities in the country, with the Muslim tag appended to them notionally or virtually, and then the escalation of violence and vandalism in almost all important Muslim dominated pockets in various states of the country, ruthlessly demolished the edifice of de-radicalising of Indian Muslim community which the Congress claims it assiduously built over decades by adopting pro-Muslim pacifist and even solicitous policies at different levels. Many a time, the national mainstream expressed unease at this overdone conciliatory stance. Nevertheless, standing by its characteristic quality of tolerance, the masses of Indian people did not make an issue out of the ongoing large scale vandalising that could have the potential of disrupting and endangering civilian life and property.

The misfortune of the Congress is that after its grand old titans phased away, and the second and third rung leadership donned the mantle, it gradually dawned upon them that they were far behind their pioneers in popularity and public response. The generation gap was wide enough and would not let them cash on the big names for all times. Therefore, a new mechanism of retaining political ascendency had to be created. Simultaneously, they were confronted with the emergence of a new socio-political phenomenon called the culture of identity in the Indian civil society. It posed a serious challenge to the popularity and status of the traditional Congress party.  After all, the impact of the steady growth of the Indian economy could not be underestimated. The rise of the culture of identity was a glaring manifestation of that impact. The task of the Congress to maintain its supremacy was becoming more and more arduous.

Unfortunately, the Congress, looking out for political crutches, committed the grave blunder of shifting its ideological goalpost from passionate and universal nationalism to the narrow confines of the national minority of Indian Muslims. In doing so, it first deliberately built the “oppressed, discriminated and deprived” profile of the Indian Muslim community, and then, on that premise, began to legitimise its policy of appeasement and pusillanimity towards the Muslim community. This was the beginning of an ugly and disastrous phase of Indian democracy, namely the vote bank politics. In carrying forward this policy, Congress, out of sheer lust for power, created an icon (Indian nationalism) to whose doorsteps it would bring all imaginable blames.

They branded the Indian nationalists variously like “tyrannical majority,” “Hindu terrorism” and even “Nazi dictatorship”. With that, the Congress party claimed that only they could provide security and prosperity to the Muslims of India while the rest of them, particularly the nationalists, were their detractors. Had Congress confined itself to the economic and social uplift of the Muslims of India and not created a political concoction, it would have immensely contributed to the integration of the Muslims into the national mainstream. The street rages and vandalism that we see today in Muslim dominated sectors in the entire country is what the Congress and its close associate the Left, nurtured for so many decades. They sadistically sowed the wind and the Indian nation must now reap the whirlwind.

If the Muslims of India have remained outside the national mainstream, the cause is firstly the wrong approach of Congress and secondly the absence of right-thinking leadership among the Indian Muslims. By succumbing to the egotistic socio-political philosophy of the Congress, the Muslims of India not only sidelined themselves from the national mainstream but also unwittingly created a wedge between them and the national majority. The widespread protestation by a section of the Indian Muslims that has emerged in the aftermath of CAA is part of the political game of Congress and its dissenting allies to create disorder in the country. It will be noted that Congress has resorted to these tactics after it exhausted all other options of derailing the elected government at the Centre.

It is for the first time since independence that some Indian Muslims have come out openly and violently against the elected government in the country and against the sovereignty of the Indian Parliament. Interestingly, the anti-India and anti-Indian majority campaign is being waged while brandishing the Indian tricolour, unlike the Kashmiris who generally brandish either the black or the Pakistani/ISIS flags in their anti-India demonstrations. Waging violent demonstrations under the shadow of Indian tricolour is certainly a method in the madness called takkiya in Islamic terminology.

By these exclusivist protest rallies, this section of Indian Muslims have indicated that they reject the Indian secular democratic dispensation as did the founders of Pakistan seven decades ago. The question is: If this section of Indian Muslims do not want a democratic dispensation, what do they want then? Do they want to force the Indian nation to ask for a declaration of India as a Hindu state like Pakistan? We have a word of admiration for the Modi government which did not lose its cool during the ongoing scenes of vandalism, arson, loot and violence in the country. This is how the government of the world’s largest democracy should behave. The Hindu community leaders equally deserve appreciation for not allowing the masses of people to go mad after a handful of miscreants. How regrettable that the chief of the Congress has publicly announced her party’s support to the students but has not said a word of warning or advising them to desist from vandalism, and respect the law of the land. She clings to the vote bank, and surprisingly she learnt nothing from her son having to run away from his traditional constituency in UP to a predominantly Muslim dominated constituency in Kerala. It appears that Ms Gandhi needs to support the elements in or out of the country that aspires and work for disintegration of India.

The widespread protestation by the Indian Muslims is not just a local affair. We are aware of various inimical forces on the international plane working towards the breaking of the Indian Union. After having played and exhausted its role in the Middle East, the rabid Islamic jihadists and suicide squads have shifted the scene of the contemporary war of civilisations from the Middle East to India. The concentration of all terrorist jihadists and suicide bombers of Pakistan along the Indo-Pak border, Pakistan’s repeated threats of using weapons of mass destruction, China’s dangerous posture in the Indo-Pacific oceanic region, outright anti-India stance of Turkey, Egypt and Malaysia, and the vast scale propaganda and disinformation unleashed by sections of biased national and international media, all point toward a global conspiracy purporting to destabilise the elected government in New Delhi and disintegrate the Union of India just because Indian Prime Minister is fighting Islamic terror at many world forums. Many countries are enviously looking at India’s growing economic and scientific power as a challenge to their status in the international arena. Many anti-national elements within the country or the Urban Naxals are accomplices in these perfidious acts. It is a shame for the opposition, one and all, that at a time when our enemies on the west and the east have forged an unholy alliance and are poised to strike at India in various ways, the opposition is contributing to its own disaster.

It must be noted that the protestation methodology adopted by anti-CAA crowds country-wide, is precisely the replication of the methodology adopted by the Kashmiri militants, dissidents and secessionists viz. stone-throwing and attacks on the police, torching public property and public and private vehicles, using black masks to avoid identification, contriving media, males disguising as females, raising slogans of ‘Azadi’ and responding to police authorities by saying that their respective localities are peace-loving but miscreants come from other localities etc. The only difference is that while the Kashmiris raised Pakistani or ISIS flags, the Indian Muslim crowds raised the tricolor only to be humiliated rather than respected.

This perfidy has to be uprooted. History has shown that the Indian nation has the inherent strength to survive through cataclysms and catastrophes. Today, the nation is in the hands of an honest, able and bold leadership, led by a man of the masses. Indian Sanskriti, disowned and then despised and reviled by the invaders is reborn and will thrive in full glory. This Sanskriti is the common heritage of all those who call themselves Indians. That is why, it behoves the Muslims of the country not be misled by a few disgruntled elements amongst them who preach vitriolic hate and strive to weaken the nation through a divisive ideology and through vandalism. These elements are doing great harm to the Muslim community, which needs to stand up and reject their hate-filled ideology. It is time for all Indians to rise as one and build the foundations of a strong country.

*The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University

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