Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Indian General Elections and the Muslim Response

The last round of the world largest election ended on 12 May and the results are expected to be released on the 16th of May 2014.

India has over 800 Million people who are eligible to vote and over 100 Million new eligible voters were added to the voters list since the last general elections in 2009.

The Major contesting parties include the Right Wing BhartiyaJanata Party (BJP), Indian National congress (INC), Samajwadi Party, The BahujanSamaj party, DravidaMunnettraKazhagam (DMK), Janata Dal United, Communist Party of India, All India Trinamool congress and the New Debutant, Aam Aadmi party (The Common Mans party) (AAP)

Over 10,000 candidates have contested for 543 MP seats. In the 2009, elections The INC had won 198 seats and the BJP had won 112. Together these two parties take more than 2/3rd of the total seats.
This article will put light on how the General elections in 2014 are of a unique nature and the Muslim attitude and response to these elections.

There are two significant issues in these general elections

1. This election has been integrated with a major ‘confidence building measure’, the first after several decades. The last was after the emergency Law in 1971

2. The rise of the right wing BJP in the elections while projecting a highly controversial leader as its Prime ministerial candidate

Over the past decades, the dwindling voter turnout has been a concern for the secularists as it is a threat to the democratic institutions. To address this, democratic governmentsespecially in the developing democracies periodically conduct what can be termed as ‘confidence building measures’ so as to improve the citizen engagement with the democratic system.

A decrease in voter turnout although can be taken on a lighter note, can have serious consequences because the absent voters can signify the disloyalty they carry for Democracy.
For this reason, the Election commission also introduced the concept of ‘NOTA’ or ‘None of the above’ option so that the voters could expect their dissatisfaction with the candidates by choosing none of the contesting candidates.

In addition to this, there has been a large campaign devoted to encouraging people to vote in the Elections. For this, the Election commission roped in popular Bollywood voters and other popular figures to carry out the campaign.

The Election Saga and the big players

The UPA government which has been in power since 2004 has had a rough ride during which it has been marred with corruption scandals and weakening economy and increasing inflation. In 2011 soon after the Common Wealth Games Corruption was exposed, a national Anti-Corruption movement started forming which conducted nationwide campaigns. This continued for several months culminating in the rise of a political party based on the objectives of the Anti Corruptionmovement. This party was named as the ‘Aam Aadmi Party – the Common man’s party (AAP)’

The AAP became a hope for the common people of the country and it showed them light when it was dark. The people restarted living hopes of better governance and a corruption free government with AAP and they showed their loyalty to the party when in later 2013 AAP contested for the state Elections in New Delhi and won 28 seats and joined hands with the INC to form the government. The government was short lived, but in 49 days of its short life, they showed the energy and enthusiasm to bring change. Electricity was subsidized; Audits legislated for Electric companies presumed to be making big money and 700 liters of free water per day declared for every home.

The AAP became the corner stone in the ‘confidence building measure’ in the Indian Democratic Scene. Whether it was orchestrated or resulted as a natural path built out of frustration and hopelessness by the people, this can be debated. However, the major winners out of this are none other than the Capitalists and the established political parties of India who the decreasing turn out had caused worry.
The Voter turnout by the end of the 1.5 months election campaign was 66.4%, even more than the 1984 elections, which were considered to be the best until now.

By the time the general elections took place, the New Delhi story of the common man making it to the Chief ministers post was making rounds and people had renewed hopes. Hundreds of NRI’s packed bags and moved to India to support the AAP.

The Indian National Congress has taken an interesting stand in all these happenings and that is of recluse. It has made little attempt to curb the AAP or even attempt to speak about it or attack it, as is a well-known style in democratic elections and among democratic political parties.

The Manner and Attitude with which the INC has taken these elections has bewildered some people but it is explainable considering the anti-incumbency factor that plays a big role in democratic elections. The INC has nothing to present to the people to win votes, so it has decided that it only needs to contest the 2019 elections and work from now onwards aiming at that.

However, this does not mean that its seats will be lost to the other contending party, BJP, rather it has ensured that its only agenda was to expose and attack the BJP so that the seats it loses goes to parties other than the BJP. And this other party is the AAP. The AAP although originally started as a movement against the INC has ended up more or less as a campaign against the BJP and its controversial Prime ministerial Candidate.

At the same time, the INC has taken certain moves, which it is likely to use as wildcards when it takes the opposition seat in the parliament.

It launched scathing attacks against the Americans and caused a diplomatic row between the two countries due to one of the Indian Consular being arrested and insulted in the US. It removed the assumed immunity for many of the low ranking officers of the US embassy in India and even degraded the security measures provided to the embassy.

All this may have been a news incident a few months ago, however the BJP which is traditionally known as close to Americans are likely to rekindle the relationship and try to rebuild the bridges which is when the INC is to raise this as an issue to score points.

There have been other issues it has created for the BJP such as the Telengana separation and the criminalization of homosexuality being one among them.

Not to forget the weakening Economy which is functioning much below the projected at just 4.7%.
With the economic challenge for the BJP to tackle, the INC has a good chance to ensure its come back in 2019 if BJP fails to bring change.

The BJP on the other hand, has ensured that it does not repeat the mistakes it did in the previous elections. So it took on the offensive several months before the elections, at a time when all the other parties where dormant and appointed a controversial yet successful politician, NarendraModi, a 3 time Chief Minister of the industrial state of Gujrat.

Modi, is known for his leanings towards Anti Muslim Parties such as the RSS and VHP and has been considered responsible for the Gujarat carnage in which thousands of Muslims , men, women and children were killed in broad day light.

Modi, for the past decade has claimed innocence and insisted on not accepting the blame or even asking forgiveness from the Muslims.

The BJP’s primary reason for appointing Modi as the prime ministerial candidate is because of his personality and branding. Considering the fact that India has between 50 Million – 100 Million voter base of Hindu Extremists, the BJP understands that Modi suits these voters and there was no one other than Modi who could prove his credentials of being supportive to the Right Wing Hindu Objectives. His 2002 Anti MuslimPogrom is a boon to him as he is likely to win a lot of these votes over to the BJP.

In addition to this BJP’s conservatives stances has led it to have a traditional voter base of businessmen and industrialists. Modi as a Chief Minister of Gujarat has opened Gujarat for investors and businessmen and this has led big conglomerates, Indian and foreign to open shop in Gujarat. This includes some of the big names in the manufacturing and car industry and others. It is Brand Modi’sGujarat Business and Economy model that BJP is using to woo the traditional voter base of businesspersons and industrialists.

Who is likely to win the elections ?

All signs indicate that the winner out of these elections is going to be the BJP and it will proceed to form the government. However, whether Modi makes it to the PM’s seat or not is dependent on how many seats BJP wins. If BJP wins enough seats to comfortably form the government with no or minimal alliance support then it will be able to appointModias the PM. However if it was to win less than 200 seats then Modi will have a challenge to make it to the PM’s seat. Most of BJP’s allies are unhappy with Modi’s Prime ministerial candidacy and if BJP was to be dependent on their support to form the government, they will likely make a condition that Modibe dropped as the PM candidate. The likely PM in that case will be rajnathsingh, the current national president of the party.

The Muslim Response ?

Muslims have seen the BJP with suspicion and the BJP has proved true to this. The BJP has done little to allay the fears in the hearts of the Muslims and the INC and other parties has added fuel to this.
This is one of the reasons why Muslims flocked in droves to vote for parties which opposed the BJP. Some Scholars even went to the extent of taking to the pulpits at Jummah to ask the people to ensure that they voted for parties like AAP , INC and samajwadi so that BJP could be defeated.

Unfortunately, the Muslim leaders in India seem to be naïve with some of them working for their self-interests, they have realized little that democracy has a track record of oppressing minorities and not giving them their rights.

As for BJP’s attitude when it forms the government, it will likely reach out to the Muslims and will make attempts to show its secular credentials to the Muslims. At the same time, parties who do not make it to the government will try to create tensions between the Muslims and Hindus to prove the communal Anti Muslim Nature of BJP.

Whatever be the outcome of these elections, it is testing time for Muslims. They have suffered under the previous governments and have been at their mercy and will continue to be so in this government and the future governments.

This should be a turning time for the Muslims in India, they should shed the secular ideas and hopes they carry from the democratic parties and work to create a path for their future. Unless the Muslims in India are able to write their own future, others will continue writing theirs and the Muslims will become a vote-bank subject and will always be at the mercy of the Secular Kufr Political Parties.

وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ إِلَّا تَفْعَلُوهُ تَكُنْ فِتْنَةٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَفَسَادٌ كَبِيرٌ

And those who disbelieve are allies of one another, (and) if you (Muslims of the whole world collectively) do not do so [i.e. become allies, as one united block under one Khalîfah (a chief Muslim ruler for the whole Muslim world) to make victorious Allâh's religion of Islâmic Monotheism], there will be Fitnah (wars, battles, polytheism) and oppression on the earth, and great mischief and corruption (appearance of polytheism). [TMQ Anfal: 73]

Abu Khalid

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