ELECTION ADVISORY

Donít Get Hijacked by Your Own Emotions

Muslims must watch against the pitfalls of emotions that can colour their judgement, writes Dr. Mohammed Manzoor Alam.

Let it be clear at the outset that we have not, will not, forget the demolition of Babri Masjid, along with 25 other mosques and mazars in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. Nor are we going to forget the cold-blood murder of every Muslim man, woman and child that was unlucky enough to be present in the town that dark day. We have also not forgotten, nor will forget, the murder of hundreds of Muslims across the country during the long-drawn demolition campaign and following the demolition.

We will try to get cases registered against the guilty as long as the law does not take note, or plainly refuses to do so. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of that crime have not sat idle and have staged so many other carnages all over the country, including Gujarat 2002. Even today, they are trying their best to recreate the anti-Muslim hysteria of 1992 through hate speech, through provocative acts like throwing slaughtered cows in Hindu areas, especially near temples. These elements thrive on anti-Muslim hysteria. They came to power at Centre riding the communal hate wave. They want to repeat that experiment. They should not, will not, be allowed to provoke us. They must never win.

That brings us to the real point. Remembering our past tragedies gives us the wherewithal to cope with our present and future difficulties. However, here we have to keep in mind the fine distinction between remembering our past and becoming a slave to our memories of the past. We must never allow ourselves to be a captive of that past. Every day brings a new challenge that requires fresh, innovative strategy to meet that challenge. People living in the past are not capable of meeting the present and future challenges. Old, straight-jacketed thinking does not take us anywhere. We have to decide how much of the past we require in our present and our future.

The past is always chockfull of memories, not all of which are pleasant. And those unpleasant memories can send powerful, overwhelming recollection of deaths of people we knew at the hands of the Masjid demolition squad. Yes, memories of death, injury, loss, betrayal and sorrow come rushing in like turbulent tsunami waves washing ashore, taking away whole villages, towns and entire populations. Emotions are that destructive. Yes, even more dreadful than that. Let us be warned never to get hijacked by our own emotions. Let us be cool.

We are very close to Lok Sabha elections. Minorities, Dalits, tribals, women, the poor and disadvantaged have a higher stake in democracy, rule of law and the supremacy of our Constitution. Let us play our card coolly. To begin with, let us not make Babri Masjid demolition an election issue. Let those who demolished this more than 400 year-old UNESCO World Heritage building decide whether they want to make it an issue. If they decide to do that, they are welcome. We are not contesting them anywhere, except in the courts of law.

That also brings us to our over-reaction to Kalyan Singh, who as the Chief Minister of UP in 1992 betrayed the Constitution and the National Integration Council (where he had promised to protect the mosque). He also betrayed the courts, the people of India, his rajdharma and his conscience. For such a monumental betrayal he got a token sentence of a dayís imprisonment. So, that is that. Now the point is, whether Muslims should waste their energies on issues like which party takes him in after he left BJP, or was kicked out of it. Such people are in the habit of getting kicked out and kicked back into the parties. Earlier, too, he had left BJP, made some noises against the Advani-Vajpayee duo about the Babri Masjid crime, and one fine morning he returned home to BJP. This is his second round of the ritual.

Now, we must see the point that we should not bother too much about whom he joins. All that we can do is not vote for him or his lackeys. Thatís it. Electoral politics does not have much room for morality. By the time he is welcome into a party he will be defanged completely, his communal platform taken away by his party.

Here one must point out that every political party and every politician has his or her own interest as the primary reason for the policies they follow. Both SP and BSP have overtly or covertly aligned with BJP at one point or the other. So has LJP. The post-election scenario is still fluid and uncertain. We have to watch every move of the major actors carefully before things really begin to crystallise.

The latest move of Mulayam Singh Yadav has further alienated Muslims. He has opposed the detention of Varun Gandhi under NSA. This has deterred quite a few non-Muslims from coming close to him because it amounts to providing tacit support to anti-Muslim hate mongering. As I said earlier, this is the time to watch carefully and allow a more clear picture to emerge.

There are already signs of discontent in the SP over Kalyan and Varun. Let us wait and watch how the secular front consolidates itself before we make a choice. Till then everything has to remain open.
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