The growing warming up of Indian Muslims to BJP with the beginning of Modi-era is surely a watershed development in Indian politics.That the alleged “pseudo-secularism” of Congress is going to be relegated to the well-deserved place in the museum seems to be a forgone conclusion. In fact, the long pending accusation on the part of BJP that Congress’ secular ideology is not secularism but “minority appeasement” is finding more takers among Muslims and this explanation of the exploitative character of Congress is gaining a common sense status. That is surely not to write off Congress as a would-be non-entity but this does speak volumes about the impending downfall of a party which started off its career as a political movement largely seen as an umbrella organisation under the shadow of which people of different religious, political and cultural colures would work. In fact, as yet, facts on the ground still speak otherwise, yet the trend seems to be irreversible.This has galvanised people like M J Akber, Asifa Khan, clerics, professionals and persons associated with different walks of life among Muslim populace to embrace this party which was traditionally a taboo for them. The recent “casting off of BJP net” in Kashmir by certain Deobandi clerics is a link of the same thread and the thread is the change of heart among Muslims of India from the Nehruvian Secular Nationalism embodying minority welfare but as elusive as ever to Hindu Nationalism’s clever promises to bring welfare albeit with Hindu dominance as its cost. What does this spell for the Muslim-Hindutva relationship? Will the former be consumed by the latter reducing it to insignificance or will the former force the latter to countenance moderation?
There are two possibilities: One, BJP’s traditional goal of Hinduisation may be revived after being left half way during the last NDA rule. The attempts during the Vajpayee-led NDA rule at “tinkering with” school text books to project an “alternative” version of Indian history or glorification of Hindu cultural values at public occasions (e.g., “scientificising” yoga), or assertion of unity between Hindu mythology and scientific progress (the recent “discovery” of “stem cell research”, “plastic surgery” and “nuclear technology” in ancient India is a case in point) are indeed an indication that the project of “Hindu Rashtra” (Read the divergence between Gandhi’s ethics-based Ram Rajya and Hindu Rashtra) is still as dear to Sangh Parivar as ever. It might seem puzzling to Hindutva opponents, both political parties as well as liberal scholars, that a force so conservative, reactionary and unenlightened should finally grab the attention of those who have so far been “othered” by it. But it must be read as a fact that the “reward” of the real-politik of Congress based on minority exploitation is being reversed with equal content of real-politik – the Muslims don’t love BJP as much as they have begun hating Congress and hence would like to enhance their material life in a Hindu majoritarian state. One of the main reasons why Muslims are ever more backward than Dalits and marginalised in all walks of life as per Justice Sachar is that the Congress despite enjoying its One-Party Dominance era failed to create an egalitarian society, despite promised by the goal of “socialistic pattern of society”.
However, the bourgeoning scheme of things might not prove to be satisfactory either. Going by V D Savarkar’s explanation of Hindutva, Muslims would in fact be “second class citizens” where they would have to bow to Hindu supremacy and limit their religious activities to their drawing rooms because their loyalties are divided between their “fatherland” and their “holy land” (Arabia). It’s only on account of their undivided loyalty to India, Savarker argued, that they could be regarded as “Hindus”,i.e., equal entitlement to the “national cake”.
Could it be that Muslims will gladly accept this attendant religious marginalisation as a quid pro quo to their material welfare? The answer seems to be in the affirmative in the short-run. Yet, in the long run, it could further intensify their communal feelings once the dust of their new-found romance with BJP settles down. That, I think, will prepare the ground for the second possibility.
The Hindutva agenda of BJP with the responsibilities that come with political power might be forced to adopt moderation. It might help BJP to learn that Utopias hardly work in practical politics that too the ones with religious overtones. That’s a universal message from the political practices all over the globe. If these, however, don’t fail, they are made to fail and eventually aborted by the unassailable logic of liberalism which believes only in reason, rationality and moderation. The latest soft rhetoric on issues like Ram Temple, Uniform Civil Code and not the least, Article 370 are thus, in favour of the second possibility. But this is going to create another problem for BJP – it would further get distanced from its “mentor” organisation, RSS, that has already begun. How far could BJP go in sidelining it, is to be seen.