Monday, June 17, 2024

The day when most Muslims could vote for BJP

The shoe is in the other foot after Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rolled the dice on Pasmanda Muslims. 

Muslims we hear, see and read in newspapers and TV channels are elite Muslims commonly known as Ashrafs who have little to do with Pasmanda (Left Behind in Persian) Muslims, made up of Ajlafs and Arzals, the backwards and dalits of the community—  the biradari system we are never told about Muslims like we are stuffed on equivalent caste system in Hindus. 

Now most Muslims in India are Pasmanda, some 85%, which should agonise you like it is with a tooth-extracting dentist on his couch. 

If Pasmandas are such a suffering lot at the hand of Ashrafs—you wonder how has this word, “consolidated Muslim vote”, gained currency in the popular and political discourse. 

Indeed, there are 100s of Biradaris—Julahe (Ansari), Kasai (Qureishi), Fakir (Alvi), Hajjam (Salmani), Mehtar (Halalkhor), Ghosi (gwala), Dhobi (hawari), Lohar-badhai (Saifi), Darzi (Idrisi), Dhunia (Mansuri) etc—who are mocked and taunted by Elite Ashrafs (Syed, Sheikh, Mughal, Pathan, Rangad, Taga, Garhe etc), made to stand in the back rows during Namaz, untouchables, separated in burial grounds etc, etc. 

So let’s hear Dr BR Ambedkar, no less, on Dalit Muslims: “With them, no other Mahomedan would associate, and they are forbidden to enter the mosque or to use the public burial ground.”

And the BSP founder Kanshi Ram: “…the leadership of Muslims is dominated by the so-called high castes…they do not want the subordinated Muslim castes to rise to their levels.”1

So don’t you swallow the egalitarian and “peaceful religion” propaganda, and if you could, go for two books, Ali Anwar’s Masawat Ki Jung and Masood Alam Falchi’s Hindustan Mein Jaat Pat aur Musalman as a primer on the subject. 

Before we dwell on how 15% Ashrafs hold the fellow co-religionists in their palms let’s first count on what all they control in India’s context: The fulcrum of institutions—Jamat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, Jamat-e-Islami, All India Muslim Personal Law Baord, Idaar-e-Sharia etc—as well as major government-run institutions for minorities (Aligarh Muslim University, Jamie Milia Islamia, Maulana Azad Educational Foundation, Urdu Academy etc).

They are the ones, your Muhammad Ali Jinnahs, who made Pakistan possible and the methods they chose are still in vogue for Muslims have always struggled to put nation above religion which really is the genesis of two-nation theory. 

The pet mode is mob lynching and communal riots which trap the subordinate biradaris into identity politics. Next time it happens, notice: The victims in nearly all communal tragedies is from a lesser caste and nearly always it’s the forward caste which reaps harvest. And when it happens, these 100s of biradaris are transformed into on consolidated “Muslims”. Elites make a meal out of harping on religious identity to keep flock together which is quite different from empowering the Muslim citizenry. 

The assertion on religious identity is the seed of two-nation theory. Its propagators don’t stand for democracy and secularism or a common law for all citizens. 

An Iranian can be an Iranian, a Turk a Turk—their national identity is not subsumed by religion. But in India, the identity politics doesn’t let it happen. That’s a recipe for regression, not of modernity and progress. 

So a Pakistan actually translates into Punya Bhumi but try terming it in the Indian context and see how hell breaks loose. 

Thus the infusion with nation’s character never happens. The ones who did (Al-Biruni in his Kitab-ul Hind and Dara Shukoh in Majma-ul-Bahrain) are ignored in popular narrative for it serves the Elites as it does the Left-Liberals, to use the “Muslim bloc” for their own ends. 

So separation serves, exclusionary identity serves, not the call for inclusiveness: What if a Musalman remains a stranger to the land, resentful of the present and afraid of the future. 

Transition from religion to secularism is progress for many but for the proponents of Islamist supremacy, it’s a loss. 

Left-Liberals play on Islam-in-danger; repression by Hindus; ignored Urdu, under-representation in government job, bias by the State and so did the Elites and it has remained the theme for over a century now. Both the Liberals and Elite Muslims fattened themselves on minorityism—without ever meaning the welfare for them. 

It’s they who would resist change in Muslim Personal Law even when Hindu Code Bills took a life in the 1950s; it’s they who made Shah Bano, as they did with triple talaq and CAA, and lately with Hijab and Prophet-remark row, the matter of existence to have Pasmandas rush into their care. 

From time to time, came reports such as one of Sachar Committee under UPA in 2006 which highlighted how far Muslims have slid on the social and economic ladder. It helped to heighten the fear of the community and kept Elites and Liberals in the same bed. The narrative on “Saffron Terror” of course helps the agenda. 

Thus have existed the philosophy of victimology, never mind only some 60-odd Muslims from the Pasmanda background have made it to Lok Sabha since independence. None of the parties—your Congress, BSP, Samajwadi Party—have actually stood up for them even though BJP takes much of the stick for it. 

But now Azamgarh and Rampur has happened. BJP won both bypolls to Lok Sabha which have been “home seats” for Akhilesh Yadav and Azam Khan. All those Lodhis, Kurmis and Dalit Muslims apparently junked them. 

And BJP is loving it. What if this model is extended to the rest of India? What if Pasmanda Muslims long-standing grouse is given a vent? How it would help the India Story and loosen the Elite Muslims-Liberals stranglehold? 

So we hear prime minister Narendra Modi prod his karyakartas to reach out to Pasmanda Muslims. The latter on their part have been quick to grab the extended hand. They don’t mind annulment of Article 370 and 371, or for that matter building of Ram Temple and introduction of Common Civil Code, as long as Pasmanda Muslims are offered reservations under Article 341 of the Constitution. (Backward Muslims are in OBC but SC-ST is still out of bounds.)

Pasmanda movement for sure is maturing by minute—“Dalit-Pichda ek saman, Hindu ho ya Musalman” (Dalit-backwards are alike, be it it HIndu or Muslim). They are getting wiser on social identity over the religious one. It’s not looking for saviours but to alleviate their status through representation in the democratic system. 

It would be game over for Elite Muslims and Left-Liberals and you could be sure they won’t leave the stage in a huff. Incidents could be engineered to stop the Pasmandas from crossing over. But if Rampur and Azamgarh keeps happening, there would be a rethink—and a possible parting between the two. 

India is getting into a new churn. Tighten your seat belts—we all would be muddied. 

But then who said it would be easy?

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