Many Muslims have criticized me for opposing Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.
So I wish to make my position clear.
I am not a supporter of the BJP ( nor of any of the Indian political parties ). I am a strong supporter of secularism, and of freedom of religion, and believe that all religions deserve equal respect. I also believe that a hallmark of a civilized society is that minorities therein can live with dignity and honour.
Whenever any atrocity was committed against Muslims, or any other religious minority in India, I have spoken out against it.
When I was a judge of Allahabad High Court, I gave several judgments supporting the right of Muslims to build a mosque or offer namaz or take out the tazia procession, holding that it was part of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution ( which guarantees the right to freedom of religion ).
I also held that Muslims have a right to run a slaughter house for slaughter of buffaloes, goats and other animals ( except where there is a law against killing such animal )
When I was Chief Justice of Madras High Court I held that Muslims have a right to take their dead bodies on a public road, and they cannot be prevented from doing so merely because there is a Hindu temple by the side of the road.
However, I have opposed the Bharat Jodo Yatra because in my opinion the real purpose of the Yatra is not to unite India but to enable the Congress Party to get back the large Muslim vote bank which had deserted it after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, and thereby enable Congress to come back to power, which it had lost in 2014 to the BJP.
It may be mentioned that the Muslim vote bank is large particularly in North Indian states e.g. UP and Bihar where Muslims constitute about 18% of the population. To win an election one needs a little over 30% votes, and so coupled with some Hindu caste vote bank, the Muslim vote bank plays a crucial role in Indian politics. But precisely for this reason many so called ‘secular’ political parties and politicians have wooed this vote bank, not because they have any genuine concern for the welfare of Muslims, but to obtain power.
In his speech at the Red Fort Rahul Gandhi spoke of spreading love, and criticized the Indian media for polarization of society. He also criticized the handling of the Indian economy by the BJP which has increased unemployment and harmed the small and middle businessmen.
But Rahul does not seem to have the foggiest idea and has not elucidated any concrete schemes as to how, if Congress comes to power, he will solve the massive problems in India of widespread poverty, rising unemployment, skyrocketing prices, lack of proper healthcare for the masses, etc. During the rule of the UPA ( from 2004 to 2014 ), which was headed by Congress ( which is really a fiefdom of the Gandhi family ) scam followed scam, not of crores, not of hundreds of crores, but often of lacs of crores of rupees, and it is a safe conjecture that the then Empress of India took away the bulk of this money to secret foreign havens.
One can understand the mentality of Indian Muslims, who in recent years have often been subjected to harrassment, discrimination, and even violence ( lynching, beating for not saying Jai Shri Ram, etc ). For this reason they are desperate to get rid of the present regime.
But I request them to consider two things :
(1) If Muslims want genuine equality and an end to discrimination and atrocities against them communalism has to be destroyed. Communalism did not arise suddenly after 2014. It was present in Indian society even before that, though it was to some extent checked by the ‘secular’ parties ( principally the Congress ), not because they had any genuine concern for Muslims, but with an eye on the crucial Muslim vote bank. Before 2014 communalism was latent, and erupted only occasionally. After 2024 it has become open, virulent, and continuous.
Communalism is a feature of feudalism, and India is still semi feudal. Therefore communalism will persist in India and can only be destroyed when a highly industrialised society is created in India.
(2) Muslims in India also suffer from the same problems which other Indians suffer from viz massive poverty, huge unemployment, skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, lack of proper healthcare, etc.These problems will not be solved by the Congress ( or any other of the present Indian political parties ) coming to power. The Sachar Committee Report, highlighting the plight of Indian Muslims, was submitted in 2006 when the Congress led UPA was in power, not the BJP.
So my appeal to Indian Muslims is : don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire.
The problems of Indian Muslims has no doubt been aggravated by increased polarization of society after 2014, but essentially they are the same as those of other Indians e.g. unemployment, price rise, etc. How can these be solved ?
I submit that these cannot be solved within the present system prevalent in India, but will require creating an alternative political system under which India rapidly industrialises and modernises. How can such a system be created ? I submit it can be created only after a mighty historical protracted united people’s struggle led by patriotic modern minded leaders who are determined to make India an industrial giant, like China, and ensure a high standard of living to all our people
Indian Muslims should now refuse to dance at the tune of some ‘madaari’ and be treated as a vote bank by crafty selfish politicians who are only interested in power and pelf. They should join hands with patriots of other communities, and prepare for the coming historical people’s struggle, which is the only road for India’s salvation.