New Delhi, Dec. 16: Rattled by the outcome of the elections in Gujarat, Muslim leaders across the country are busy convincing their community to respect the verdict, act responsibly and reduce tension.
Indications are that the community leaders may again consider an out-of-court settlement to the vexed Ayodhya issue which, they believe is the root cause of all problems. However, the traditional leadership is still opposed to it, fearing that such a course would make the community look more vulnerable.
Reacting cautiously to the poll outcome in Gujarat, some prominent Muslim clerics from Lucknow urged members of the minority community to respect the people’s verdict and help the new government in Gujarat to build the state.
Others said the need of the hour was to consolidate “secular forces” to check fundamentalism. Kamal Farooqui of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board said the biggest threat was to a “majority of secular Indians” and not to Muslims or Christians.
Farooqui said if such a trend continues, the Congress and other “secular” Opposition parties would be worst affected. “There are several lessons that can be drawn from the Gujarat results. The Congress unwittingly indulged in competitive communalism and paid a heavy price. What was worse was it provided credibility and legitimacy to Narendra Modi.”
Some Muslim leaders acknowledged that the Gujarat election results had sent shockwaves as it confirmed communal polarisation in the state. But the dominant feeling among the Muslim clergy was to restrict the Gujarat “experiment” to the state.
Vice-president of the law board, Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, said the results were indication that polarisation of votes had taken place on communal lines. He, however, added that the divide was “not as sharp as expected”.
The Maulana, who is a strong votary of formal inter-faith dialogue with Hindutva groups like the VHP and the RSS, said the time has now come for all Opposition parties, including the Congress, to help the new government build Gujarat.
Another Shia cleric close to the BJP, Maulana Agha Roohi, “blamed” Muslim leaders for misleading members of the minority community on communal lines. “The community should chalk out its course afresh to suit the changed scenario,” he said.
Hardliner Zafaryab Jilani, convener of the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee, claimed that despite the efforts of the VHP, division in the society was not sharp. “Had it been so, the BJP would have polled over 70 per cent votes,” he said.
Representatives of the Muslim law board said there was disquiet and unease in the community but everyone is hoping that it would not go beyond Gujarat.
The Delhi Catholic Archdiocese today expressed fears for Gujarat’s minorities.
Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao dubbed the verdict a dangerous trend that could hurt the secular fabric.
“We accept the democratically elected government of Gujarat. But we find it difficult to believe that some of our brothers and sisters have responded to the communal call of one section of our society.”