The cover of the latest issue of India Today has an eye-catching headline, “Angst and Aspiration: Inside the Muslim Mind”. Penned by Aroon Purie, the narrative has tried to capture the true feelings of the Muslim population of India, as the nation moves towards the elections in May, this year. With BJP candidate Narendra Modi appearing to be a clear winner, the question on everyone’s minds now is what do the Muslims want for the nation and for themselves in the future?
However, like the plastic faced Muslim on the cover of the issue, the answers that lie deep within the heart would sadly, never be revealed.
As indicated by the editors, the common Muslims in India have been offered one of the two choices, either opt for the assurances offered by politicians who consider them mere a vote bank or remain under their own ghetto minded leaders who alienate them from the rest of the nation in order to be in control. To put it more clearly, the Muslims can vote for either the Congress or their own Muslim regional parties. However, the choice factor is limited here as well.
The editor has however, chosen to emit a third possible front for the Muslims, that of subjecting to the principles of the “Hindu Rashtra” in exchange for developments, growth rates and employment benefits etc. Modi has extended this offer to Muslims across India as he tries to hide his party’s own Hindutva legacy as well as put the terror of the Godhra riots behind him.
The narrative tries to project the thoughts of a modern Muslim who has moved beyond the point of polarization and expects to get his work done no matter what happens to his religion in the backdrop. Poori has indiscreetly also pointed out that this would be the best option for Indian Muslims in the current world scenario.
However, the editor has left out the true feelings of the Indian Muslims. Talk to any Muslim living in India at present and you are bound to get scared glances the moment you mention Modi. While Indian Muslims want development, education and jobs, they want to feel safe in their homeland at first. The idea of a Modi government repeating the 2002 riots coupled with the after effects of 9/11 and 26/11 have left the Muslims of the nation vulnerable and worried.
Promises of jobs and growth would only be acknowledged if safety is addressed first. Even an RSS politician who would be a favorite with the minorities would most likely be the last choice for a candidate for the Muslims living in India. To put things bluntly, Muslims are not ready to vote for Modi just because he claims to have overcome his anti-Muslim rhetoric image.
Questions about what the modern Muslim would think about Modi becoming prime minister has long been debated about. The answer is simple. Even the modern Muslim would want the BJP leader to go beyond just beating the governance drum and actually come out and answer questions instead of ducking them. That would be the only way he can win the hearts of the Muslims he wounded so many years ago.