By M Ghazali Khan
Except few reports not much has been written in the Urdu press and Muslim news portals on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at Vigyan Bhawan delivered in the presence of Jordanian King Abdullah.
The occasion was attended by some of the ulema including the President of Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind Maulana Mahmood Madani who also addressed that audience.
Strangely some ulema on social media have welcomed the ‘changed’ atmosphere while the programme and the speeches delivered at Vigyan Bhawan have come under severe criticism by Muslim intellectuals on internet forums, specially on NR Indians, perhaps the largest forum with the presence in it of almost all the known names of Indian Muslims.
In a write-up circulated on social media Zakat Foundation’s Chairman Dr Zafar Mahmood calls Modi’s speech, ‘… music to the ears is at wide-angled variance with his earlier pronouncements pitching Shamshans against Qabristans and, yet earlier to that, repeatedly and aggressively bundling up all Indian Muslims under the censorious and offensive epithet of ‘Mian Musharraf’.
He has given a 12-point list saying, ‘…This profusion of contravening factors seems to have strategically though transiently sobered down the primitive, ungracious march towards Hindu Rashtra mellowing it down and camouflaging it with lukewarm conciliatory tones.
‘Nonetheless, the Indian Muslim wishes that such conclusion is counter-factual and that there is genuine change of heart. In that case the community expects the prime minister’s candy-coated epilogue to be followed up by ground level actions which are as follows.’
Some commentators on social media have interpreted the presence of ulema in the programme as a ‘good sign’ because, in their views, by blindly keeping on supporting a hypocritical party and making another party, i.e. BJP, as a forbidden fruit, Muslims have been blundering. Some went as far as praising Mahmood Madani’s speech who, they thought, took Modi to task by reminding him that a real ruler is the one who rules the heart of the masses.
These simpletons need to be reminded that the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpaee had given similar advice to Modi during his visit to the riot torn Gujarat in 2002 and had asked him to follow ‘Raj Dharam’. In the clip still available on YouTube Modi can be heard retorting as ‘Wohi to kar raheN haiN sahab’ (this is what I have been doing sir.)
There is no doubt that true to his words, Modi has not changed. He has been dutifully following what he thought was the ‘Raj Dharam’. He followed it as the Chief Minister of Gujarat and has been doing now as the Prime Minister of India. In the words of his supporters ‘he has cut Muslims to size.’
While talking about Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the moderate face of Hindutva, it is necessary to remind the readers that Mr Vajpayee had made these remarks as in the next few days he was due to visit some Muslim countries. ‘I am ashamed.’ he said. ‘I don’t know what face I will take to some of the Muslim countries I have to visit.’
However, during that visit Gujarat was not even mentioned let alone someone expressing concern at the massacre. After his return it didn’t take him long to switch to repeat RSS’ venomous accusations. Answering a question as to whether there was an ISI hand behind the Godhra carnage, he said, ‘Investigations are still going on into the matter, but prima facie it looks like a planned attack than a spontaneous attack.’ (Times of India 4 April 2002).
Now we are in 2018 when Narendra Modi is himself the Prime Minister, the two thekedars of Islam, Iran and Saudi Arabia, have given him a red-carpet welcome while Saudi Arabia went as far as honouring him with the highest civilian award. This should hardly surprise anyone, then, that a Salafi scholar was also present at the programme.
As far as Mahmood Madani and his Jamiat-Ulema-i-Hind are concerned, after its leadership was captured by his late father, Maulana Asad Madani, the role of this organisation was reduced to merely pleasing the government of the day. In return for his 18 years long Rajya Sabha membership he had dedicated himself in the service of the Congress. This is not to speak ill of a Muslim who is no more there. These are every way historical facts that the younger generation of Indian Muslims need to be told. Neither he had any academic ability to his credit nor did he have any leadership quality. His only qualification was that he happened to be the son of a renowned Islamic scholar and for the blind followers that was enough to claim. From the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawrat to All India Muslim Personal Law Board, he kept himself away from each and every collective endeavour of Muslims. From the most challenging issues faced by the community to the 1980 anti-Muslim riots of Moradabad he did not open his mouth. But it seemed that by the time of Moradabad riots Muslims had lost their patience with him. Wherever then he went he faced protests against him.
From this point Mahmood Madani’s role is relatively better. At least he is working with other Muslim organisations and will continue to do so until 2019 elections when he seems to have been promised his place in Rajya Sabha.
Some well-meaning Muslims who have defended the attendance of the ulema in Modi’s court saying that Muslims need to talk to the Prime Minister anyway, let them know that this should have been done by Muslim organisations collectively soon after the 2014 election at the Prime Minister’s house and not at Vigyan Bhawan. But what has happened is that some individuals and organisations have tried to get the audience with Modi on their own and the purpose seems not more than pleasing the party in power. As for Mahmood Madani, his warm relations with Modi are not new. In December 2013 Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar had carried a report, along with a photograph, that whenever Mahmood visits Ahmadabad he is driven in Modi’s special bullet proof car.
Those deluding themselves into believing that they will ever be able to influence a RSS Parcharak should refresh their memories and read this article written before 2014 elections.
[M Ghazali Khan is a senior Indian journalist and writer based in London. He is also Editor of Urdu Media Monitor. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org]