BJP is constantly being attacked by its own party members along with the opposition parties. Congress and BJP sparred over Rajnath Singh’s meeting with Muslim clerics in Lucknow with the ruling party accusing the BJP of “double-speak” and the opposition party hitting back. Attempting to reach out to Muslim community, Singh had met some prominent Muslim religious leaders in the UP capital from where he is fighting the Lok Sabha election. Gandhi’s meeting with the Shahi Imam had invited strong reaction from BJP with its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi leading the attack. Modi has accused her of spreading the “poison of communalism” in election.
The latest blow comes from Lucknow — the capital of the most populous state, with prominent Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad not only showering heaps of praises on BJP president Rajnath Singh, but also comparing him to former Prime Minister and five-time MP from Lucknow Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who has set a benchmark for the voters of this prominent parliamentary constituency. Days after senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and party candidate from Kanpur Murli Manohar Joshi created a storm, saying that there is no Modi wave, but BJP wave in the entire country, Modi critics both within the BJP and outside the BJP have got another reason to target Modi.
Moreover, Rajnath said his outreach cannot be compared with Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid on April 2. Sonia had reportedly said in the meeting that the Muslim vote in India must not be divided. Days later, the Shahi Imam came out with his endorsement for the Congress. Rajnath Singh may say anything but BJP has realised that without Muslim votes, they won’t be able to make the numbers. Appeasing Ramvilas Paswan type leaders, BJP has tried its level best to please Dalits. Now, they are haunting for Muslim votes. Although Modi is an OBC, you must appreciate that he never talks of the caste system. He has always spoken of the inclusive growth. It is a different matter that Modi is pitched in Bihar because of his OBC status. This is a political strategy which can’t be avoided as the competition is pitching the same. However, let us see if Modi comes to power then will there be change.
Rajnath Singh said he is meeting religious leaders of all faiths. On the other hand, Muslim clerics declared to media that they are scared of Narendra Modi, but Rajnath Singh has the acceptability of Vajpayee. Jawwad, on this occasion, also made it categorically clear that no political “fatwa” or diktat would be issued to Muslims voters, but he would “present his views” before the community. Besides Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, Rajnath Singh also met other prominent religious leaders like Maulana Kalbe Sadiq and Maulana Khalid Rasheed. Uttar Pradesh is India’s most electorally vital state with 80 parliamentary seats. It has 18 per cent Muslims, and in the state capital of Lucknow, Muslims constitute a fourth of the population. The city has 1.8 lakh Shia Muslims. Meanwhile, the Congress accused the BJP of practising double standard. Muslim clerics have said Rajnath came to meet them and made promises for Muslims. While, Shahi Imam went to meet the Congress president. That’s the basic difference between the two meetings. Isn’t this communalism?
Caste is a reality in Indian society and has been practiced since long. It is entrenched in the DNA and thus it would be naive to think that we can annihilate caste. Caste cannot be annihilated just in the same way that race / class can be. What we can do is to eliminate the discrimination and prejudice that exists based on these distinctions. This task is extremely difficult and slow. Caste is in the foundation of the society. However, changes are taking place. Irrespective of the benefits or drawbacks of reservations for lower castes and Dalits, what I have noticed is that the opposition to the reservation is coming from those who will lose the privileges i.e. from the ‘upper’ castes and other religious groups. Until and unless the reserved category decide themselves that reservation is no longer their requirement, anti-reservation rhetoric from ‘upper’ castes will have no moral ground. I must admit that though the reservations could bring the unprivileged castes to the forefront and erase caste-based inequalities in the long run, it might entrench the caste identity by itself. Entire election is caste and religion based, all the parties are worried about Muslim and Dalit votes, everyone trying to woo them. Modi met Rajnikanth, or Sonia and Rajnath’s meeting Muslim leaders, they all are trying hard to win in the general elections; that’s it.