Saturday, March 5, 2016

All minorities must be taken along

All minorities must be taken along
Reporters Name | CAMIL PARKHE | Saturday, 5 March 2016 AT 07:42 PM IST
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Narendra Modi-led BJP came to power in May 2014 and the party won the distinction of forming the government on its own for the first time after a long gap of 30 years. It was Rajiv Gandhi of the Congress who had won a two-third majority in Lok Sabha in 1984 and formed the government.

The present BJP government also has a dubious distinction. Since Independence, it is the first ruling party at the Centre which does not have a single Muslim member among its 282 Lok Sabha members! That is why the party was forced to induct the party’s
Muslim Rajya Sabha members, Najma Heptullah and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi into the Union ministry to make it as all inclusive. This was indeed laudatory on the part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In Maharashtra, the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena alliance has however not shown this political maturity. For the first time since Maharashtra came into existence in 1960, there is no minority representative in the state ministry. In the past when the Shiv Sena-BJP government came to power in 1995, Sabir Shaikh, an MLA from Junnar, was inducted as Cabinet minister. But this time, neither the BJP nor the Shiv Sena found it necessary to induct any minority leader into the State ministry. The State ruling group has once again shown its scant respect for the country’s secular principles when it has excluded any member of the minority community in the State ministry. In keeping with this policy, now the government has also excluded any members of the Muslim community from the list of veteran national leaders, personalities whose birth and death anniversaries are to be commemorated by the government organisations and academic institutions. Incidentally, the Muslims comprise 10-12 per cent of the State population.

The BJP came to power when its Prime Ministerial candidate made good governance and development as his main election plank. To be fair, it must be noted that even after assuming power as the prime minister, Modi has in his various speeches and actions has adhered to these promises. In Maharashtra, however the BJP has initiated many moves creating insecurity in the minds of the minority communities. In fact, after coming to power, both the BJP and Shiv Sena should have made endeavours to win confidence of all sections of society in order to broaden their vote bank and thus consolidate their power to win long-term political benefits.

It has been proved that there are limitations on a party winning even a simple majority in Lok Sabha on the Hindutva plank and therefore an all-inclusive agenda, appealing to cross-sections of the electorate is needed for any political party to come to power at the Centre. As Hindutva organisations, BJP and Shiv Sena may have their own agenda toward the minorities but as the ruling group and the governing agency, they need to follow the Raj Dharma and work in the interests of all sections of the state’s population.

Instead of targeting the minorities, both parties in the ruling group need to woo the minorities into their own respective political camps. That will be a politically mature move and will pay them rich political dividends in the long term.

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