The Muslim question

Eid Mubarak. Why do Indian politicians say this in a deliberate showy manner but not something similar on Diwali, Dussehra or Christmas? Why do they love going to Iftaar parties and be seen there, but never at Christmas festivals? Are Indian Muslims fooled by this show of 'secularism' or are they now fed up by such sops?

The coming election in 2014 is going to be a watershed in many respects, but above all in terms of what it means to be a Muslim in India. The presumption of the Congress and other 'secular' parties has been that since Narendra Modi is the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, they can raise the bogey of 2002 and frighten the Muslim vote rinto walking over to their side with hands and feet tied. Secularism for the Congress and other secularist parties has only one meaning— grabbing the Muslim vote bank.

Following the tragedy of Partition, Muslims in India have been treated as a special species. The true secularist does not even refer to Muslims as such. They are called the minority. But are there not other minorities? Are Muslims the largest minority? Or are they, as a recent excellent paper by Javed Jamil says, the second largest majority? Does the status of a minority outrank their status as citizens? Are they the only group who has to 'enjoy' (suffer?) this special treatment?

The Partition was a great blow to the Congress's vision of India. Congress leaders agreed to the Partition, of course. They did not resist Muhammad Ali Jinnah; indeed there is ample evidence that Congress leaders were quite impatient by April 1947 to get rid of the Muslim League rather than share power with it. But once the deed was done, there was denial. It was said that Jinnah believed in the two nation theory. The Congress apparently did not, but had to agree due to the perfidious British.

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