Zee Media Bureau/Ajith Vijay Kumar
New Delhi: Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind chief Syed Mehmood Madani has put the Congress and other so called ‘secular’ parties on the mat by accusing them of creating a Narendra Modi bogey to spook Muslims into backing the party in the 2014 general elections.
Asking Muslims not to be scared of the BJP`s prime ministerial candidate, Madani said that secularism is deep-rooted in the country and the communal forces can never win over the hearts of the general public.
Madani said the so-called secular parties should not seek votes in a negative manner but through positive campaign by speaking about their agenda and spelling out the promises they have fulfilled and promises that remain unfulfilled.
"These so-called secular parties should explain what their governments in different states have done. What promises they have fulfilled and which ones still remain. They should seek votes on this basis and not on the basis of fear of somebody else (coming to power)," he said.
Coming from an influential cleric like Madani, who heads the largest Muslim organisation in the country and is linked to the family that controls the Darul Uloom Deoband, the Congress has reasons to be worried.
Madani may have later claimed that he was misquoted and that his statement should not be seen as an endorsement of Modi, but Congress strategists at 24 Akbar Road will have to think hard and think fast to avoid the ripples created by Madani to travel far.
Officially, the Congress has given a guarded response and asserted that the party has no need to create fear of someone to garner votes.
While Madani’s intent behind raising the issue just before assembly elections to five states is questionable, the point he has raised is bound to set the cat among the pigeons.
The secular vs communal debate in the country has always revolved one hypocrite axis – the BJP is communal and all other parties are secular. The DMK, Ram Vilas Paswan, Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar, Naveen Patnaik and some others of their ilk enjoyed power at the Centre as part of the communal NDA but turned ‘secular’ when out of the saffron alliance and are welcomed by the staunch seculars with open arms.
The bottom line: The BJP will remain communal at all times, while the others will remain secular, that too with Teflon coating that ensures that no number of deaths in riots under their watch will leave any taint of their starched clothes.
Then there is Narendra Modi. His elevation as BJP’s PM candidate and the huge turnout at his rallies has forced the Congress to do rethink on its strategy on him. From trying to contain him as a regional leader the party has now started to counter him. The seriousness of the Modi challenge can also be gauged from the fact that none less than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to come out with an appeal to all ‘secular’ forces to unite against the Gujarat Chief Minister.
While the suitability of Modi as India’s PM is a question that is best left to the aware voters of the country, the Congress and other ‘seculars’ seem to be helping Modi’s cause by trying to keep him entangled in the Godhra ghost.
It would be better if they fought him on issues of development and governance. When Rahul Gandhi has been highlighting the achievements of the UPA government like the right to food, employment, education and land reforms, then why is there a lack of conviction in the Congress about the ability of these path breaking initiatives to win over voters?
They should beat Narendra Modi on an agenda of progress, if they can. The country, especially its youth, is restive and wants a better tomorrow with more incomes and jobs, it is time the polity gets its ear to the ground.
And for the Congress, the ‘Maut Ka Saudagar’ folly should be still fresh in memory.