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As the country prepared for the polls in early 2009, the ruling alliance had little chance of getting the majority to form the government on its own. On one hand, anti-incumbency factor was looming large over the government, on the other the charged BJP and its ‘strong Prime Ministerial candidate’ were unleashing charges one after the another against the Congress and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. Congress, the leader of the ruling alliance was clearly at the receiving end. Who would then be interested to be part of a sinking ship. The alliance partners who shared the comfort of power with the Congress in last five years, in the testing time began deserting the grand old national party one by one. Facing the crucial elections, the party was clearly in a dilemma.


At this crucial time, however, if anyone came to its rescue it was the Indian Muslims. The beleaguered Muslims in India, though betrayed by the party for years came out of their homes in large numbers to cast their votes systematically in favour of the Congress party. The results when declared were surprising even for the Congress.  The political observers who claimed that the era of the coalition government would be there to stay in the country were proved wrong. The fact was that after twenty long years, Congress was in a firm position to form the government on its own.


Interestingly, Muslims in India supported the Congress despite the fact that party’s performance vis-à-vis Muslim interests was not so impressive. Not only during the five years in office but also at the time when the election campaigning was at its peak. The time when normally even the illegitimate demands are accepted. But true to its tradition, Congress declined to offer enough number of tickets to Muslim candidates as demanded by the community on the basis of the party’s pledge to give representation to Muslims depending on their population. As a result, the new parliament that took shape in Delhi in 2009 is having insufficient Muslim representatives in the parliament.


In return to the unconditional support to the Congress party that enabled it to form the government at the centre, what the Indian Muslims get is very interesting. After over seventeen years when Liberhan Commission Report on the demolition of Babri Masjid was tabled in the parliament, the Action Taken Report (ATR) that followed was nothing but a mockery of secular values of the country. Ironically, while the government lacked in the iron hand it needed to bring the culprits to book, the culprits themselves were seen proudly admitting their guilt in and off the parliament.


Worse, while the government was still struggling to come out with a clear-cut strategy about the culprits involved in the demolition of the Babri Masjid, in uneasy haste it tabled Ranganath Mishra Commission Report on minority reservation in the Parliament. Even while tabling of this much publicized report was yet to fade away from memory, the Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed – the man who ever since taking charge of the ministry is on a kind of announcement spree – announced yet another commission. This time he was talking of forming Equal Opportunity Commission.


The question is for how long the Congress would ensnare the Indian Muslims by mere formation of commissions when it doesn’t care to bother about their recommendations. Leave aside the commissions that talked about giving concessions to the Muslims. The government is not willing to take suitable actions on some that are directly related to the national security and secular credentials of the country. Else, what excuse the government has for not taking actions on the findings of the commissions like Liberhan Commission, Shrikrishna Commission and Patil Commission formed to look into the communal violence and lapses on the part of the law enforcing agencies, and about the incident that tarnished the image of the country.


The irony is that the Congress leadership is not interested in changing its attitude of past sixty years towards the Muslims. However the party leadership should clearly keep this in mind that the Indian Muslims have now grown enough to consider the formation of commissions and mere announcements of various schemes for them as an attempt to beguile and keep them intact with the party. The tactics might have worked in the past. But they won’t anymore.


When in its fag end, the year has one more interesting event. Congress president Mrs. Sonia Gandhi while addressing the special program orgnaised to commemorate 125th anniversary of the party claimed, the party has always stood for secular values. The statement might be music to ears for few, the fact is that on the ground level the Congress has always compromised with the said values. This is why the Indian Muslims are worried about  the promises that are regularly made nut never converted into realities. They are seriously worried about the waqf lands meant for their empowerment being misused by the vested interests. They are worried about their youths who are lingering in jails since years on the basis of unfound charges while others with serious charges are provided with leniency. They are worried about the government’s attempt to interfere in Madrasas while their institutions where majority of their children get education fail to get the attention of the government. They are worried about what is happening in states like Gujarat where Muslims are forced to hide their religious identities and to assume Hindu names to earn the livelihood. The list of their concerns is endless. The year 2009 like the preceding years has only added more woes in the list. The Congress party if it is really so as claimed by Mrs. Gandhi then it has to address these issues forthwith.







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