U.P.’s modern, moderate majority carries the day for Modi

U.P.’s modern, moderate majority carries the day for Modi

By MADHAV NALAPAT | NEW DELHI | 12 March, 2017
1947 partition of India, BJP, Madhav Nalapat, Congress party, Muslim League, Mahatma Gandhi, Hindu majority, Sonia Gandhi, awaharlal Nehru administration, UPA, UP Assembly Polls
The victory of the BJP in UP represents a major defeat for parties in thrall to the practices of Nehruvian secularism.
The 1947 partition of India was the result of the British colonial power punishing the Congress Party for its Japan-leaning “neutrality” during the 1939-45 war and its rewarding the Muslim League for fully backing the Allies against the Axis. However, to sidestep accountability for the division, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru reasoned that Partition was the consequence of Muslim mistrust of the Hindu majority. As a consequence, soon after the murder of Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru got the excuse he was seeking to put in place a system based on what may be termed “Nehruvian secularism”. In this construct, the Hindu majority was subjected to the restraints and disadvantages ordinarily undergone by minority groups in countries that are less than fully democratic. In contrast, the minority communities were given the privileges available only to the majority community in countries where faith plays a dominant role in public affairs. Most of the minority communities in India (such as Sikhs, Jains, [most] Christians and Zoroastrians) had no need of the crutches provided over time to them by Nehruvian secularism, and made impressive progress on their own. Nehru did not have these groups in mind while implementing a concept of secularism that was opposed to the “equal treatment for all” principle that the actual concept is based on, but solely the Muslim community, whom he sought through his policies to wean away permanently from yearning for a repeat of Partition. This was, paradoxically, by continuing the British-era practice of separating them from the majority community through a system of differential treatment to them as compared with policies towards the Hindu majority. Temples that were expropriated by the state during the period of colonial rule were retained in the hands of the successor governments to the British Raj, while temple lands confiscated during British rule were not returned to these houses of worship even after 1947.

The calculation of the Congress Party led by AICC president Sonia Gandhi was that the main focus of the party had to be on the minority vote bank, estimated at around 20% of the population. With this cache safely in the Congress kitty, the Congress high command figured that all that was needed was a third of the majority community vote to enable victory in any multi-cornered contest. In other words, around a 35% vote share was sufficient to ensure victory in a Lok Sabha poll. This could, the UPA calculated, be secured by programmes designed to put a subsistence income in the hands of the very poorest of the population and by winning over caste and regional elites so as to access the vote banks they were presumed to control. The root of present-day communal problems arose at almost the start of the Jawaharlal Nehru administration (1947-64), when the Prime Minister refused to include some of the practices within the Muslim community when he made changes to corresponding Hindu practices through the Hindu Code Bill (1955-56). Most consequential of all, Nehru refused to follow the tenets of secularism as accepted the world over by getting implemented a Uniform Civil Code to ensure equal justice for women across lines of faith. From Nehru’s time in office onwards, successive governments in India identified the radical fringe within the Muslim community as being representative of the entire population of Muslims in the country, a process continued by Indira Gandhi and by Rajiv Gandhi, not to mention others such as V.P. Singh and even A.B. Vajpayee. Such a monopoly of recognition and respect by officialdom combined with the petrodollar flow into Wahhabi channels since 1979, to create a situation by the close of the 1980s where Wahhabi groups had become dominant in several key institutions catering to the Muslim community, despite representing only a small percentage of the Sunni segment of the Muslim population. The veto exercised by this small segment of an otherwise moderate population of India’s Muslims was seen to great effect in 1986, when the Muslim Women’s Bill forced on the government by them denied to female citizens of the Muslim faith rights in divorce available to those from other communities.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) adopted “Nehruvian secularism” as its guiding principle, even going as far as to make Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declare that his focus was on the minorities and that they should be given first claim on the country’s resources. Several regulations and laws enforced during that period embodied the Two Nation Theory of the pre-partition Muslim League by discriminating between Hindus and Muslims, as usual in the name of “secularism” despite such unequal treatment being in violation of any genuine secular principle. There were reports during that period that note was taken of those officials who had “tika” marks on their forehead and who were known to visit temples, and that the careers of such officials were sought to be blighted on the excuse that they were “pro-BJP”. State-controlled temples of the importance of Guruvayur in Kerala and Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh went into the effective control of Chief Ministers of faiths other than Hindu, although it must be added that neither did the first NDA government do anything to remedy the situation by freeing Hindu houses of worship from government control. New edicts such as the Right to Education Act that continued the Nehru-era practice of discriminating against the Hindu community were passed, and in some states, those from favoured communities were given protection not by the law, but from the law, in that crimes committed by them were ignored by state police departments filled with individuals chosen on the basis of sectarian considerations. Had such practices taken place in a context where economic growth was high and levels of unemployment reduced as a consequence, discontent at the injustices inherent in “Nehruvian secularism” may not have risen to the level it did during the second term of the UPA, when the practices of the past were not only not abandoned, but were added on to. However, incompetence and corruption became responsible for an economic performance far below that needed to accommodate the close to 13 million young people needing jobs each year in this country.

Although the UPA sought to emphasise the centrality of the Muslim community in its calculus, only Wahhabis were handed over the keys to policy so far as Muslims were concerned, the effect being to ensure a policy matrix that benefited a few, but kept the bulk of the Muslim population in a state of economic want and social handicaps. During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the overwhelming bulk of the community voted against the BJP, but since 26 May 2014, it has been clear to many within this vibrant community that the policies being followed by the Modi government are neutral as between those of different faiths.

Also, the importance given to the Wahhabi fringe has been replaced with an effort to locate and to interact with leadership that is non-Wabhabbi. Indeed, Prime Minister Modi has made the battle against such exclusivist and supremacist beliefs a central part of his messaging to the people of India. As a consequence, the “moderate majority” within the Muslim community has begun to raise its voice and to demand that its views prevail over those of the Wahhabis in matters of concern to millions of families, such as the cruel practice of triple talaq. The intention of the BJP appears to be to win over moderate (and more especially, modern) Muslims to its side, as also Muslim women, in addition to the Shia community, that has long had a soft corner for such BJP leaders as A.B. Vajpayee and Rajnath Singh. Meanwhile, the way in which political formations in Uttar Pradesh other than the BJP doubled down on their efforts at giving a privileged position to the elites of particular communities reminded the majority community of the discrimination it had undergone during the UPA period.

Effective policy needs to be neutral as between different faiths, a truism that the UPA refused to acknowledge in its repeated efforts at retaining what has been termed the “minority vote bank”.

Both the Samajwadi Party as well as the Bahujan Samaj Party in the just concluded UP Assembly polls sought to expropriate the Sonia Gandhi strategy of seeking minority votes in their entirety. This they sought to achieve by giving a large number of tickets to Muslim candidates, few of whom were part of the “Moderate Majority” of Muslims. This had its own effect on the rest of the population, which responded by moving over to the BJP side. Even among the minorities, sections who understood that sectarian politics would only perpetuate the economic hardship of several sections of the Muslim community voted for the BJP. This was as a consequence of the belief that Modi would ensure that UP (the state in which he was elected to Parliament) get a Chief Minister who would govern the state in as effective a manner as Modi did Gujarat for over a decade.

More and more from the Moderate Muslim Majority are finally coming into the open about the manner in which the Wahhabis are damaging a vibrant community through influencing successive governments into implement regressive policies that favour the fundamentalist few and go against the interests of the moderate (indeed, modern) many. Muslim women in particular are losing their fear of the Wahhabis and appear to have voted for the party led by Prime Minister Modi in large numbers, especially after his team spoke out against the practice of triple talaq.

The victory of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh represents the second major defeat for those parties in thrall to the practices of Nehruvian secularism, the first being the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Even the Aam Aadmi Party, although in its initial phase giving hope of a liberal ethos, adopted several of the stances of the UPA where the community matrix in India was concerned. Hopefully, all such parties will move away from community-centred and caste-specific politics and embrace measures that are neutral between a citizen of India and any other.

Failing this, they appear destined to repeat the UP loss in subsequent contests in major theatres. More and more voters in India, especially from among the young, understand that the only path to success in the 21st century is through the embrace of the values inherent in the qualities of moderation and modernity, and are voting accordingly.

There are 13 Comments

The RTE act was basically legislated to ensure that the Hindus do not start educational institutions for the betterment of poor Hindus. The intention was to ensure that private educational institutions remain in the hands of Christians and Muslims.

Well narrated. Nehru culture will end soon

THIS ARTICLE BRINGS OUT THE REAL FEELINGS OF INDIAN MAJORITY HOW THEY ARE SUFFERING IN THE NAME OF MAJORITY IN INDIA

Another excellent piece from Madhav Nalapat. I would however like to disagree on two counts. Firstly- the British did not partition India to spite the Congress. They did so for long term strategic reasons.Unlike our then leadership they understood the significance of a strategically located friendly country astride the middle east cresent and also abbuting the Soviet land mass that would advance their long term geo-political interests. They could not trust the socialist minded Nehru to do this. Thence Pakistan. Pakistan would in any case have to come about.The alternative was a blood bath and long term instability. Secondly-an impression has sought to be created that a second partition could take place. This is a fallacy. It should be remembered that Pakistanis a confessional state created specifically for Indian Muslims. As per international norms any state specifically created for a certain set of people is perpetually bound to take in further immigrants from that set of people. Israel and Turkey(for European Turks) and, to some extent the Lebanon, are examples of this practice. Countries that claim sovereignty over their ethnics also fall in this category. China , Japan and Italy are some examples. As regards control of Hindu religious establishments some state govts have taken undue advantage of the constitutional provision where the legislature can interfere and take over these establishments. We have seen the govts of Andhra, Kerala and Karnataka requisitioning offerings made to Hindu shrines for meeting their own expenditures. The worst case is that of Karnataka where Hindu endowments were used to fund Haj subsidy and to maintain Christian churches and grave yards while the Church used its own resources and foreign donations for conversions.

Sri Nalapat! Excellent article. What worries is why that media was silent.Why is that Indian media always encourages "secularism" Suffering of majority was never highlighted. Congress caused enormous damage to India. Hope Good days are ahead

wonderful article. One aspect missed out - trying to share. The "nehruvian secularism"meant to encourage, behavioural instincts - devoid of "Hindu-ethics" (inbuilt structure for self policing - as evident in karma-theory, accountability for bad acts). This got translated gradually to "do anything for money". The public discourse was reduced to ignore corruption, stating "corruption exists world wide" . Slowly public representatives, bureaucracy, even judiciary, administrative machinery in Defence forces were getting into vortex of "do anything for money" and society was being cajoled, forced (due to helplessness) not to bother about corruption. This thought process was also part of "Nehruvian secularism". (in Tamil - nearest equivalent phrace, "emmatam sammatam" "

WE REQUEST OUR PM TO NATIONALSIE ALL MADRASAS AND CONVENTS INTO GOVT SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES TO IMPART SARVA DHARMSA SAMA BHAVA AND EDUCATIONN FOR ALL.THESE CENTRES ARE ORGNAISATIONS OF HATRED AGAINST HINDU AND MAJORITY CLAN.INDIA CANT AFFORD ALLW THEM SPREAD CHRISTIANITYA DN WAHABBI ISLAM IN INDIA

Please Sign & Share........ https://www.change.org/p/president-indian-national-congress-dr-shashi-tharoor-as-upa-s-prime-minister-candidate-for-2019-elections

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