By Sushil Kutty
In these days of political significance, ‘appeasement’ is the word, the favourite of the rightwing to beat the leftwing with –- who in turn, while disapproving of appeasement, openly embraced Muslim minority appeasement for electoral dividends. Other minorities like the Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh and Parsi are considered too politically insignificant for appeasement though they get their share wherever they are in a position to make a difference to the seats count.
That said, the second largest majority –- the Muslims of India –- is the favourite appeasement beneficiary. This is because they happen to be in sufficiently large numbers to make the cut in scores of parliamentary and assembly constituencies. Appeasement helps political parties defeat rival political parties, but appeasement also creates fissures in the body politic and social and religious fabric.
Like the Bihar government’s new schools’ holidays calendar, which discriminates against Hindus while it chooses appeasement of the Muslim minority. In fact, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s government also chose to make Friday the weekly off for Urdu-medium schools and for schools in “Muslim majority” districts. This division, born out of Muslim minority appeasement, is sure to have a long lasting impact.
Fact is, for decades, the Congress, which delivered freedom to India, lived off Muslim minority appeasement. But the multiplicity of caste-based regional parties after Mandal-Kamandal led to intense minority appeasement competition. .
The fact is, every political party disapproved of appeasement but some parties openly embraced it. The reality is, political parties – left, right and centre – indulge in appeasement. Even the Bharatiya Janata Party, which went for Pasmanda Muslim appeasement to beat the anti-incumbency of two Modi terms in a row, little realizing that Muslims consider themselves equal citizens. It is another matter that UPA-era Prime Minister Manmohan Singh differentiated and declared that Muslims have first right on India’s national resources –- undoubtedly, Muslim minority appeasement.
The scale of Manmohan Singh’s sense of Muslim entitlement/appeasement still haunts the Congress, even after 10 years of continuous Modi-rule; such that the BJP made appeasement –- along with dynastic Gandhi family rule –- one of its more often used electoral planks, a favourite of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too. But at the end of the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s own Muslim Pasmanda Muslim appeasement policy was a blanket failure.
The Karnataka assembly elections proved that Muslims everywhere in India would rather sit at home than vote for the BJP. So, why did Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar cut down on the number of Hindu festival holidays while increasing them for Muslim festivals? Why did he have to declare ‘Friday’ to replace ‘Sunday’ as the weekly off for the state’s Muslims? Is Nitish Kumar’s JD-U and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD facing competition from the Congress for Muslim votes?
Nitish Kumar’s Muslim appeasement doubles up as a case of blatant indiscrimination, too. While it left a warm glow in the Muslim heart, the Bihar Chief Minister conspired to leave a hole in the Hindu heart. But why? Nitish Kumar and his deputy Tejashvi Yadav could have increased the number of holidays for Muslim festivals without cutting down on the number of Hindu holidays.
He could have left some ambiguity in the calendar like putting an ‘option’ option for the students to take an additional holiday or opt not to. But no, he chose appeasement and threaded it with discrimination. How does this help the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar? Does putting down Hindus make Muslims happy, give Muslims an air of superiority?
The Bharatiya Janata Party has been given an issue to go to town with.BJP leaders went on the offensive immediately, even before the ink was dry on the notification. Forgetting its own Pasmanda Muslim appeasement, the BJP declared Nitish Kumar’s decision the INDI-Alliance’s anti-Hindu agenda. One way or the other, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s schools holidays calendar will impact the INDI-Alliance’s poll prospects.
It will not change how Muslims vote vis a vis BJP. Does it have to do with Muslims voting for the Congress vis a vis the RJD/Janata Dal United? Is Nitish’s Janata Dal Secular competing with the Congress for Muslim votes? Has it hurt Hindu sentiments? Bihar’s schools holiday calendar for 2024 has put the focus on Muslim appeasement. The ‘Friday for Sunday’ weekly-off for Urdu schools is dangerous appeasement. Secular India does not mean allowing ‘two-nations’ to exist within the Union of India’s borders. (IPA Service)