BJP appeases mullahs


The spectre of Islamism continues to haunt India, and those who claim to be nationalists—the Central government, RSS, et al—continue to be mute spectators. The threat from Islamist forces manifests itself in variegated forms, ranging from stopping a women football match to instigating murder.

The football match was banned by the Mamata Banerjee government to placate local Muslim religious leaders. They were incensed that the clothes would be too short and tight (anything more revealing than a burqa with niqab is improper in their scheme of things). According to a report in The Indian Express, “National-level players Krishna Das, Sujata Kar, Arjuna-awardee Shanti Mullick, former FIFA referee Anamika Sen, and Anita Roy, captain of national handball team, were expected for the match between Kolkata-XI and North Bengal-XI in the Malda district of West Bengal.”

Typically, local Trinamool Congress leaders, including MLA Sabitri Mitra, supported the ban. A lady politician working against the women in her own constituency—is this the change her party promised to the people of West Bengal?

Unsurprisingly, local officials acted accordingly. Biplab Roy, Block Development Officer or BDO of Harishchandrapur, Malda, told the newspaper that he got his orders from his higher-ups. “When I came to know about the local opposition, I referred the matter to the SP and the DM, and the local police station. The order came from the top that the match should be cancelled, and I acted accordingly in the interest of peace and tranquility and public order,” he said.

Again typically, the bugbear of law and order is used to stop a perfectly legal, healthy, and enjoyable activity. One wonders what kind of democracy we live in which citizens are proscribed playing games, while mad mullahs are genuflected to. Is this the definition of achhe din?

While the Muslim clergy succeed in keeping women away from their playgrounds in West Bengal, in Uttar Pradesh they instigate murder—and get away. The Bareilly-based All India Faizan-e-Madina Council has announced a bounty of Rs 100,786 on the head of Muslim cleric and leader of the Jamiat Ulema Hind, Mufti Mohammad Ilyas Qasmi. It may be recalled that Qasmi had recently called Lord Shiva as the “first messenger of Islam”; he had also asserted that Indian Muslims are followers of the Sanathan Dharma. Faizan-e-Madina Council national president Mooen Siddiqui Noori also said that the cash award would be given only to a Muslim, along with an “Islamic” sword.

It is foolish to expect any action against Noori from the Samajwadi Party in UP for obvious reasons, but what has been the Bharatiya Janata Party regime in New Delhi doing since the reward was announced? I have not seen any credible action against the violent organization. Nor do I recall any television debate on the subject.

Further, the BJP government has done nothing to implement the uniform civil code, something which is prescribed in the Directive Principles of the Constitution. The Ram Temple may be a pure Hindutva issue which the government may not like to raise, but no political opponent can accuse the saffron party of being ‘communal’ if it strives to execute something which has constitutional sanction. In fact, the BJP government should also introduce social reform for all communities. To begin with, it can and should make bigamy a cognizable offence, so that no man dares to take another wife, with or without the approval of his first wife.

The conditions are ripe for the implementation of the uniform civil code. In a recent decision, the Supreme Court has pointed out that polygamy is not an “essential and integral part” of Islam. Yet, the government is doing little to redeem its pledge.

It is not difficult to see why. Like other political parties, the BJP too wants to appease the Muslims—to be precise, to appease the most retrograde sections of the community. Women and heterodox thinkers among the largest religious minority are unlikely to see any achhe din in the foreseeable future.