Change of heart, or change of strategy? by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (August 24, 2015)


Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

Of late the honourable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendrabhai Damoderbhai Modi, seems to be undergoing a profound change of heart. Shri Modi, who never tired of finding fault with Muslims–from their alleged involvement in terrorism to boundless fertility of their women, from love jihad to forced conversion of Dalits to Islam and lack of patriotism–has begun to appreciate their peaceful behaviour and their love for the country.

Shri Modi, who insisted that for 9/11 Islam was responsible (but, for massacre of six million Jews Christianity was not responsible, and for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi Hinduism was not responsible) has now changed the tune. During his tour of Central Asia earlier this year and during his tour of UAE recently, he has said that peace is inherent in Islam. We welcome this change even if it is not a change of heart, but merely one of strategy. We must appreciate any change for the better, even if it is not profound.

We should now persuade ourselves to forget his earlier classic comments, known for their uncharitable, biting, hostile nature. For instance, we should try to forget that when the internal refugee crisis deepened following the anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002, he declared magisterially that he wanted to shut down the huge refugee camps like Shah Alam in Ahmedabad in which Muslims driven from their homes in the violence were living. Why did he want to close them? Because, he observed coolly, those places were child-manufacturing companies. He did not bother to think for a while that all of us–sinners like us and saints like the PM–were “manufactured” in the same way. Being a childless person, he wants us all, perhaps, not to have children.

Let us try to forget a hundred and one insults he has chosen to inflict on Muslims publicly, in front of applauding audiences. To denigrate the holy month of Ramadhan, observed all over the world, for the remembrance of God, he declared that he brought rains in Shrawan, let Muslims bring them in Ramadhan. He said it as a challenge to Muslims, who refused to take it. After all, it is their belief that both rain and sunshine are brought by God. Also, Shrawan is the peak of rainy season in India, while Ramadhan comes in summer, winter and monsoon. It comes, from year to year, from January to December. Nobody needs great intelligence to grasp it. Yet, his audiences never forgot to clap on this mundane remark, as if it was a great piece of wisdom.

The US, United Nations, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and Latin America have always been convinced that Indian Muslims have so far stayed away from international Jihad. Only the Sangh and its hundred and one outfits have been insisting otherwise. Before the visit of President Obama to India, the Prime Minister changed the tack and told Fareed Zakaria of the CNN that Indian Muslims were loyal to India, committed to living and dying on its soil. This was less from conviction and more for bringing the government’s position in line with that of the United States and its president.

However, the rabid element of the Sangh––there are more of them than can be counted easily––has consistently kept on taunting, threatening and maligning Muslims (and, sometimes, Christians) from public platforms. Even Parliament has been used for this criminal hate speech targeting the minorities. They have virtually gone unchecked. We do not want to legitimise them by quoting their perfidious speech, but suffice it to say that no self-respecting government, especially its prime minister, home minster and law and order machinery would tolerate it. Once this criminal activity became part of international media reporting and comment, the prime minister half-heartedly tried to caution them. Even then no one was booked, no criminal case was filed against anyone.

The government and the Sangh have fine-tuned a certain kind of division of labour. While the prime minister harps on “peace and development,” under an understanding the Sangh indulges in hate speech and virulent anti-minorities propaganda. While the more brazen-faced Sanghis claim that the BJP won heavily in UP in the last Lok Sabha elections on a platform of development, shrewd operators like Amit Shah and others know that they won because of communal polarisation after staging the vicious anti-Muslim riots of Muzaffarnagar.

What was done in Muzaffarnagar in UP the Lok Sabha polls is sought to be repeated in Muzaffarpur in Bihar for the coming state assembly elections. The efforts to polarise Bihar by the Sangh are going apace. Anti-Muslim riots incidence has grown three-fold since BJP was booted out of government by Nitish Kumar. All over the state the Sangh is busy digging up old, forgotten communal disputes and creating new ones over animal meat in mosques and temples, property disputes over mosques, mazars and Muslim graveyards.

Once again BJP is talking about development of BIHAR while forcing the state in ever-never communal disputes. The Prime Minister has wisely announced a “package” of Rs. 1.25 lakh crore to Bihar (it is one percent of the country’s GDP in 2014-15). While half of Sangh (including BJP, VHP, RSS, AVP and others) is talking of “development” the other half is stoking communal fires. This is a blow hot–blow cold strategy perfected by the Sangh over the decades. The Prime Minister, being an ideal RSS pracharak, has learnt his lessons well.


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