India's biggest minority community is scared by the BJP poll promise in which it vouched for a uniform civil code (UCC). The BJP proposes the bill obstinately to press for more gender equality. I can tell all concerned people that in India there is absolute freedom to practice one's religion and culture and also to cast vote free from any fear, except possibly in very remote or very undeveloped areas.
As far as freedom to practice religion is concerned, Muslims have absolute one, which is possible in India. Only outcastes can protest against some discrimination if they are not legally allowed to worship in a few remaining big temples in India. Sure, reality on ground is much worse for outcastes. But Muslims cannot complain about anything in this regard. Fine, for very die-hard believers of Islam, Shariah should be the law of land but that is absolutely impossible in India though Indian Muslims have their own personal laws.
Therefore, fear of a Hindu, Hindi version of the UCC being forced on them is too much exaggeration of a reality. The fact is that the UCC cannot take shape because of the internal divisions among various Hindus and all Hindus cannot agree for a common code. If a negotiated UCC is worked out, it could very well end up in an almost a null document. Now it is the promise made by the BJP; it is neither that of the NDA or extended NDA and the latter can never agree on this issue.
In any case, Muslims would be properly consulted before any decision on the UCC shall be taken in any time possible in Indian politics. Or else, they would have recourse to protection by India's apex court. I know that our founding fathers did envision UCC as a required perpetual goal for homogenizing the vast country but still Muslims, if they object to a proposed UCC and they will, will get apex court's protection on the matter.
Now as far as scrapping Article 370 is concerned the BJP has declared its intention to discuss it with all stakeholders though the party stands committed towards its abrogation. Now I tell you this is not at all possible for Narendra Modi to do it anyway. First of all, the Article 370 cannot be scrapped or even suspended by an executive decree, an ordinance or by a Cabinet decision. The only route is the Parliamentary one where the BJP may not be able to muster enough support.
Now suppose because of executive decision by the Cabinet approved by the honorable President of India or through the Parliament's maneuvering the Union government led by Mr. Modi somehow decides to scrap the Article 370 then the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Assembly has full right, as a legislative defense mechanism, to reject the proposal by passing its own resolution against the Union government's decision or/and Parliament's resolve.
Let me tell all probable readers that this is possible and it does not undermine lawmaking ability or sovereignty of the Indian Parliament. Other than that, the J&K government can seek protection under the existing legal framework and file a petition in India's apex court against the Center's decision or/and the Parliament's resolve.
But let me say as a warning that Article 370 is a link between the New Delhi and Srinagar and its scrapping should be avoided until the last possible moment. Legally, the status of J&K can only be changed through the consent of its Assembly and there will be little support to the proposal about abrogation of Article 370 in the state legislative body. As a mater of fact the Article 370 has not done good to the state economically but then not all are economically rational and that is not how the J&K state views its position inside Indian Union.
Therefore, it is indeed very difficult and frankly speaking, nearly impossible for Mr. Modi to undo Article 370. Most important thing is that he will face opposition within the extended NDA and again even without that it is legally very challenging task. Still, the displeasuring views of the biggest and most dominant constituent of the governing coalition in New Delhi on the issue would matter a lot to all stakeholders in the state. If the future hypothetical Union government tries it so, such a measure would minimally strain Union?s relationship with J&K state.
Now with regard to Pakistan, the BJP's policy would be tit-for-tat. It would not allow Pakistan to exploit size factor against India and would deal with it firmly. But there is absolutely no question of any major conflict erupting with Pakistan by default, in case Modi-led government takes it shape, formally, post-election. I do not think that Indian Muslims can have any problem in this regard. With rest of Islamic world the BJP-led government would keep normal relations and would mostly continue previous governments? efficient and effective approach.
In conclusion let me tell the most aware Muslims that Hindus, particularly the saffron family, are responsible for their misery but not to that extent as they think. Out of almost a millennia since Islam arrived in this geography, almost three-quarters of that time belonged to Muslim rule and except for 67 years of Hindu-dominated India, the rest belonged to British. British were rather neutral people and Hindus as a group rarely harm the dominant people. Mind you, for a quite significant time in the history of Indian Islam, Muslims were rulers of this country and should own some responsibility for the state they are in.
I do not need to be told that it is a different time and also that post-independence there have been many discriminations and violent acts against Muslims. But again the BJP, in any form, has been dominant at the Center or at various state levels, for quite insignificant time. I know that many Muslims are backwards and they need Union government's support and they should be provided with that. But then Muslims need to be realistic about the Hindus in general and the BJP in particular.
I can assert with full confidence that if India continues to grow, which is the exact possibility, the ability and even willingness of saffron family to think and act against Muslims would asymptotically approach a negligible value with nothing but populist nuisance attached with it for all possible sides.
Whenever it happens it should be welcomed by all, though even after that Muslims as a group will not vote for the BJP. However, the fear factor must go immediately and Mr. Modi should promise an inclusive approach towards Muslims, if and when he leads the governing coalition in New Delhi. In defense of the BJP I can say that the party has nothing like having a pogrom against Muslims and that indeed Hindus as a group are not at all bad people.
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