[Analysts have reported that Muslim community leaders have met all 3 anti-BJP leaders - Hardik Patel, Jingesh Mewani, Alpesh Thakur, and asked them for their attitude towards Muslims. (Youtube)]
The enemies of secular India (Modi, Adityanath, other bigot politicians) have always said that secular politics in India only means appeasing Muslims. And they beat Congress party pretty hard with that stick in the elections in 2014 and Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh in early 2017. But the current Gujarat election is showing that finally many Hindus are turning away from BJP putting all blame for not solving major problems (poor development, unemployment, corruption, bad healthcare, bad education) on the doorstep of secular politics.
BJP's Gujarat model that called Secular polity evil, has failed so badly in Gujarat and has caused so much hardship in the last few years that previous ardent BJP supporters (Patidars, Dalits, OBCs, small traders) are shouting from roof tops, DO NOT VOTE FOR BJP. In Hardik Patel's massive rally a few days ago in Surat, Patidar leaders went so far as to ask the 1 lakh crowd to pledge by lighting up their cell-phones and shouting in unison, and phoning their families to not vote for BJP. This level of bold and vocal political opposition in Gujarat, the heart of BJP politics for decades is unprecedented.
Analysts have reported that Muslim community leaders have met all 3 anti-BJP leaders (Hardik Patel, Jingesh Mewani, Alpesh Thakur) and asked them for their attitude towards Muslims. All of them have expressed sympathy for Muslims and have indicated that they will help them if they win in the election. In Bengal similarly, the very vocal and unflinching opposition of BJP by Trinamool and Mamta Bannerji in the face of BJP's hard attacks also shows the failure of the anti-secular politics of BJP.
The anti-Padmavati movie movement that BJP thought was a sure shot in helping them bury Secular politics, (which means to them only that no one should be fair to Muslims) has also turned their strategy on its head. This controversy has created a wide schism and intense fight between secular Hindus and Hinduttava Hindus. A very large number of Hindus from every walk of life have vocally opposed the BJP effort to demonize the movie. All Bollywood folks associated with the movie are Hindu. With not a single Muslim in the camp of the makers of the movie,and thus no Muslim to beat with a stick, this is a straight fight between two sets of Hindus. Once again we see how many Hindus are secular and oppose involving religion in politics.
In the face of this trouble the BJP politicians are fabricating victory-news where it does not exist, and are trying to spread it with the help of the electronic media that is in their pocket. For instance, the grotesque propaganda that BJP had swept the municipal elections in UP. In only one day it became clear that other than the positions of mayor in 16 cities, their share of wins in so many towns was less than 30%.
Step by step the false propaganda of contrived good news, whether it is in economics or social arena or election victory, is increasingly the major recourse of Hinduttava political elements who prefer religion based politics over secular politics.
Unfortunately while a majority of Indian Muslims are acting with maturity, MIM and Owasi are trying to replicate BJP's religion based politics that abuses secular politics. With a beard, and skull cap and religion based shrill rhetoric , this British educated barrister is replicating in total the style of the more irrational BJP leaders like Sakshi Maharaj and Adityanath. MIM won only 0.48% of seats in the UP municipal election but MIM supporters are calling it a grand success ? Little do they understand how much they are fragmenting the votes of their own community and secular Hindus that is making more and more BJP candidates win.
Muslims should be happy that in the Gujarat election, Congress is not pandering to maulanas and moulvis and parading them infront of TV cameras. Because that is the worst exploitation and degradation of the Muslim community. . However it will be only fair that more senior Congress leaders visit more Muslim localities. In 22 years BJP has ingrained Muslim-hate so deeply in Gujarat that Congress is behaving shy like a twice bitten person. It should be noted that Congress has given 6 Assembly tickets to Muslims.
Ultimately, Muslims have to fully support the very sizeable number of secular Hindus, in an India that has become so complex and fragmented between so many attitudes & beliefs, while it struggles to modernize itself, and where a secular polity is the only enduring reality.
[The writer is the Executive Director of the Association of Indian Muslims of America, Washington DC.]