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Narendra Modi and Indian Muslims' apprehensions about him
Asked about BJP's Prime Ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi, Lt. General Zameeruddin Shah, the Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, told the Times of India in its edit-page Q &A segment that the riots happened during Modi’s rule but he knew one thing - when people were entrusted with the responsibility of serving the nation, they changed (for better). He also said that the responsibilities carried the pressure of taking the whole country forward and that that they brought a (positive) transformation, no matter what someone’s past was.

Modi in an interview published a day before, on 6 May, 2014, in the same newspaper when asked about Muslims and 2002 riots said that now it was anachronistic to think that a community (Muslim) would not be interested in development and good governance. He said that the Indian voter at present was more mature than what some of their political opponent gave him credit for. He also said that the BJP believed in taking everyone (irrespective of identity) together.

Frankly speaking, these are kind words by Lt. Gen Shah for the BJP leader. The fact is that Gujarat 2002 riots were very deadly and it was one of the major factors behind not-so-good performance of the BJP in 2004 general elections. A majority of Indians would not like a riot against a minority community to take place. But still they take place though with reduced frequency with the passage of time.

Even one big-one is a blot on the whole nation. I am sure that with time the BJP will realize that its possible thinking against minorities is counterproductive and detrimental to its interests in middle-to-long terms. But then the BJP voters need to provide some space to the party to have reconciliation with India’s biggest minority without it fearing a loss of support within the majority community.

But even in these elections the BJP is talking about all those issues many of which may appear offending to many Muslims of one region or another. The BJP is talking about abrogating Article 370 if it has right numbers in the Parliament, implementation of uniform civil code, deportation of illegal Bangladeshi migrants, building Rama temple in Ayodhya, taming Pakistan and the lists goes on. I tell you some of these issues have theoretically positive meaning for one or another segment of Muslims of India. But then Muslims of India are oversensitive towards the BJP and they have right reasons to be so. I have already discussed most of these issues in my previous articles and therefore, I am not going to repeat them.

But then Lt. Gen. Shah is absolutely right. In this ever-connecting world the pressure from the West and compulsions to deal with Islamic countries would make the BJP mending ways with the Muslims of India and also with other minorities of the nation. Pressure of national media and public opinion also matter. Here let me emphasize that Muslims of India shall have to reciprocate to goodies offered by Modi, if and when he becomes the Prime Minister of the nation.

Sure, that reciprocation would not be in the form of them voting in favor of the BJP. But still Muslims of India while having good relationship with possible Modi-led extended NDA government in New Delhi would have to change their voting behavior a bit - they should not always tactically vote against the positive BJP. Instead they should vote for the party of their choice.

But then in the best of Parliamentary traditions, the winners do respond to their voting constituencies favorably, most of the time. The fact is not only Muslims would vote against the BJP in these general elections but they would vote tactically against the BJP as well. Now if they had not voted for the party, but mostly against it, how much should they expect from the BJP? From Modi, personally? But sincerely speaking Modi would be the Prime Minister of whole 1.2 billion people and not merely of Hindus.

Now the fact is that Indian government mostly makes policies about the whole population. Sure, there are specific mentions of communities while providing them with affirmative actions. I can bet that Modi will be soft on resource allocation for Muslims but he can be tough against Muslims over policy issues, depending on the extended NDA strength in the Parliament. But at the same time no body should believe that Modi would prove himself to be a hypocrite and a mere orator and not an able administrator and a person who keeps his words to the extent it is possible for him to do so.

All should know that Modi’s ideal is Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and he was a great Hindu conservative within the fold of the Congress. I can assure one and all, despite of him talking about thousands of years old Hindu civilization’s tolerance, inclusiveness and pacifism, that he would act tough against Pakistan. Obviously, Modi cannot change India’s irreducible capacity in such a short period of time.

PM Manmohan Singh could have acted tough against Pakistan but he decided not to do so. Modi would reply minimally proportionately against any Pakistani misadventure inside Indian soil. That is for sure. Sure, majority of Indian Muslims would not mind so but still many could.

The overall projection of hypothetical future Modi-government would be to be just and honest towards all. But what is just and honest from Hindu point of view may not be so from Muslim point of view. Modi has repeated multiple times, more so in the recent past, that he felt proud of his Hindu identity. Therefore, there cannot be any doubt that Mr. Modi would act as a Hindu on all matters which are ethical, moral, and religious in nature.

But again Muslims should also be aware of fear-mongering. There is not much harm Mr. Modi as the Prime Minister of India can afflict towards Muslims even if he desires so. Of course, as mentioned earlier he would never wish Muslims bad luck or misfortune but then all Indians, particularly Muslims should know that while India will remain secular its Prime Minister would be a staunch believer in Hinduism, if that person is Modi. There is no denying this fact.

While I am not apologetic about the BJP beyond a point yet the fact is that not too many of Indians; Muslims and non-Muslims, should mind a Prime Minister who is an ardent follower of Hinduism. It is the fact that for reasons good or bad Hindus have rarely been violent towards outsiders and they have always accepted all others. For all those who believe that Modi will impose a strict caste code within Hindu society I will say they have illusions and hallucinations. Not least because Modi himself is from lower caste but because he just cannot affect India’s societal and demographic equations so seriously in such a short span.

Things will be almost normal over the longer run except for transient relative euphoria and gloom within some sections of Indian society, once Modi is elected as the Prime Minister. I am sure that if he becomes Prime Minister, history will judge Modi fairly though squarely. Muslims should not have any excessive fear about Modi as a Prime Minister. Anyway, law and order mostly is a state subject though Union too has some influence and interference through its Home Ministry and the CBI.

India is a secular state and it will remain so even after two hypothetical consecutive terms of Modi at the Center. Secular state in India means no interference and influence of Hindu temples and Hindu lobbyists in Indian government’s decisions and policies. It does not mean that India’s Chief Executive cannot believe in the principles of Hindu dharma. Secularism also does not imply neutrality, atheism or superiority of minorities’ beliefs. Still, too much believe in one’s dharma is not an ideal thing as far as governing India is concerned though legally nothing can be done to change such opinion.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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