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Friday, February 02, 2007

Shiv Sena's win in Mumbai BMC elections and Maharashtra Muslims' frustration with Congress

Now that Shiv Sena has taken a lead along with its coalition partner over Congress, NCP and other parties, Muslims in Mumbai would surely be in a reflective mood.

A big section of Muslims would be happy that 'Congress-NCP ka ghuroor, ho gaya chakna-choor'. Such headline we might see in Urdu newspapers on Saturday.

The manner in which Congress government treated Muslims, the majority of Muslim populace was angry.

The midnight swoops and searches, arrests and allegedly biased manner in which Muslims were targeted after Mumbai and Malegaon blasts while the Bajrang Dal activists were allowed to go scot-free, had turned Muslims bitter.

Till last minute it appeared that Muslim vote would be divided. Most were unwilling to vote for Congress as they wanted to teach it a lesson [how many times!].

Some may have changed mind after Thackeray's statements against Islam just a few days back. However, the so-called third front comrising Samajwadi Party, RPI and other small parties, got lot of Muslim votes.

This is evident with the win of SP in half-a-dozen constituencies by afternoon, as per trends. There may be the feeling that Shiv Sena is a known enemy so it's better to have such a party than Congress, which always 'stabs in the back'.

But, Muslims, must realise that they can't be hostage to any political party. They are neither slaves of Congress, nor they need to be afraid of Sena. All parties are equal in this game of stoking communal fire and from Bhagalpur to Gujarat and Bhiwandi, Congress and BJP/Shiv Sena are no different when it comes to communal riots.

Yes, the difference may be in rhetoric. Bal Thackeray speaks unlike Congress-walas who are sophisticated but plan something that hurts more deeply like not letting Muslims get into jobs etc etc. Wouldn't it have been better if Muslims had directly spoken to Shiv Sena-BJP and bargained for something when they really wanted to defeat Congress!

Time is not lost. In the next election Muslims can surely do it. I am no fan of BJP-Shiv Sena. But Maharashtra Congress has failed Muslims badly. It doesn't implement the Sri Krishna Commission Report.

Why not play the game as per rules of the game. When we have to vote, we should do that judiciously. Congressmen are no saints. The 1993 riots did not occur just because of Shiv Sena-BJP but because of the then Congress Chief Minister Sudhakar Rao Naik, who ensured that the police did not intervene and side with the goons.

Let's bargain and vote overwhelmingly for the one who promises to at least listen to us. It is not that the Mumbai residents have voted for Shiv Sena and its anti-Muslim plank. It is the clear division of Muslim votes and lack of tactical voting coupled with the failure of NCP and Congress to do a tie-up, which has resulted in this fractured mandate.

And Muslims knew this would happen but their lack of any strategy has made it look like a 'victory for the anti-Muslim forces' and the 23 lakh Muslims are now sitting on the fence. Haven't Muslim made a fool of themselves when they could have been the king-makers.