By Masood Peshimam
A new dimension is added to the controversial suspension of AIMIM legislator Waris Pathan’s over refusing to say Bharat Mata ki Jay. Interestingly some well known Muslims in Mumbai have sought to interpret the event as match fixing between Owaisi and the BJP. Advancing the dimension of match fixing between Owaisi and BJP is the brinkmanship at its worst. Such linkage between the two contrasting events as projected in Mumbai Press Conference by some Muslims in Mumbai flows from no logic, reason or evidence. Is Waris Pathan’s suspension a part of match fixing? Is filing of FIR against Owaisi a part of match fixing? Is denigration of Owaisi by the Hindutva communal forces part of match fixing? The protest against the slogan Bharat Mata ki Jay has provoked a big backlash against the protesters. Has such backlash been cast within the ambit of match fixing? These so called spoke persons of the Muslims have not defined their own stand over the contentious slogan? Such platforms are created to enhance the social clout oriented to earn the dividends in different forms and shapes. However notwithstanding the section of the media quoting them does not diminish their lack of credibility.
The Muslim leadership in our country has turned in to a commercial proposition. Some persons join the social life to save their skin and slowly crawl to the strength of flexing the political muscles with no or less perspective to serve the just social interest.
There is no problem for raising the slogans like Madare Watan ko Salam, Jay Hind or Ma Tujhe Salaam. Even Bharat Mata ki Jay has not aroused objection from certain quarters as it is said that there is no inconsistency with the essence of monotheism propounded by Islam. Those opposing the slogan have their own logic. Their contention is that the slogan carries an element of material not in consonance with Islam. However the fact remains that both the schools of thought do not want anything interfering with the concept of Tawhid or the oneness of God, forming the very essence of Islam. However, notwithstanding any controversy over the contentious slogan the fact remains that Muslims in this country are no less patriotic than their other counterparts. The community despite the grievance of being socio-politically marginalized has always remained nationalist to the core. The Muslims living in the predominant Hindu area like Dombivli in Maharashtra are amenable to the cosmopolitan cultural influence than to any influence from any Muslim country. Their love for the country does not deserve to be doubted. The dispute is never concerning raising some slogans or not. The dispute crops up when any slogan assumes the religious connotation not in consonance with the letter and spirit of monotheism distorting the religious beliefs. It’s not the question of Muslims. Any community may not share the beliefs of others and free to express its reservation or opinion.
In the teeth of intense and competitive communalism the BJP or its patron RSS are playing the dangerous game of dividing the people in the name of nationalism to occupy much of the electoral space. In the teeth of already hostile atmosphere not discouraged by the Modi Govt. the issues like love jihad, Ghar wapsi or the beef eating are intensely hyped up leading to dangerous consequences. The brutal murders of Muslims on the pretext of eating beef and the growing intolerance has aroused the concern at the international level. The UNO, Amnesty International and human rights groups abroad have taken note of such unhappy events. The current anti pluralism trend turning into the ethnic chauvinism with the muscular show of communalism is posing a very danger to the very survival of the secular democracy.
Asaduddin Owaisi is blamed for the rise of communal temperature with his rhetoric’s to seek the electoral pastures but what about Bollywood stars facing serious constraints over their freedom of expression. Bollywood stars like Amir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan or Saif Ali Khan have no passion for sporting Islam up their sleeves or talk in the religious perspective still they are some times attacked by the frenzied Mob or sometimes to face the hostile opposition.
Urdu poet Javed Akhtar while delivering the farewell speech had a chance to clarify the situation to mitigate the madness in the name of nationalism instead looked to have indulged in drama projecting his over secular stance to earn the plaudit from the receptive ant liberal and anti democratic forces thus putting himself in the die of being opportunist. Javed Akhtar instead of showing the required sensitivity to the dangers of divisive forces was playing into the hands of those drawing the malicious pleasure of thrusting their own culture and the brand of nationalism not in consonance with the beauty of diversity and pluralism.
The late Nida Fazli despite his irreligious temperament did not play the sycophancy or flattery card. Nida was so anti religious that once at Sansar Hotel in Kurla Mumbai he called the creation of world as an accident rather than an Art, thus blowing an atheist in him. It is not known whether his rivalry with religion was a transitional phenomma or he moved close to religion thus revising his stance like late Zoe Ansari who always critical of Islam resorted to his belief in Islam at the fag end of his life. Nida Fazli despite his increasingly critical view of religion did not show his ambition to flirt with the political class looking at the prospect of the smiling fortunes. Javed Akhtar drawing lesson from Nida Fazli should have opposed the suppressing of dissent and should not have given leverage to the rightist Hindutva forces.
What is further muddying the water is the dubious role of the Congress which has no hesitation in casting its lot with the communal forces making the MIM MLA bite the dust in the assembly. The track record of the so called secular Congress is not comfortable as far as the victimization of Muslims is concerned. Right from the frequent occurrence of the communal flare ups to the demolition of Babri Masjid to the blatant injustice to Muslims the Congress only paid lip service to the secular cause and had to pay the price of the political brinkmanship.
However, notwithstanding the growing controversy over the slogan the focus is to be shifted to the redress of the miseries of the common man and pushing up the development agenda. Real Bharat Mata ki Jai lies in the economic prosperity of the common man rather than inflaming the social climate to divert attention from the economic failure in which the role of the present ruling dispensation can’t be overlooked.
[Masood Peshimam is based in Mumbai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org]