Sunday, April 05, 2009

Elections 2009: Muslim politicians' visits to temples, would you call it majority appeasement?

Indian general elections are a colourful affair. It's not just the Hindu leaders who pay obeisance at Islamic shrines, but there are lots of Muslim politicians also who are visiting the temples.

Just last week there was a furore in West Bengal when senior CPI (M) leader Mohammed Salim had visited a famous temple and sought blessings.

He had sipped the 'charan-amrit' [ceremonial sacred water off the idol] that had led to major controversy and hoardings were put up in Kolkata, against a Communist leader performing puja, consuming prasad and practising the politics of appeasement [ya, you read it right].

Far away in South India, a few voices were raised but no fatwa or protest. The recent incident involves a Congress leader and former hockey player Aslam Sher Khan. He is contesting on Congress ticket in a Madhya Pradesh constituency and visited a temple to seek blessings for his victory in the Lok Sabha polls.

So it's not just the Maulana Mulayams who are accused of wearing the skullcap and hosting iftaars or meeting Ulema to seek votes, Muslim politicians are not much behind.

There are many other leaders visiting the temples. The Samajwadi Party candidate from Lucknow* Nafisa Ali visited the Hanuman temple and started her campaign after puja. She is a new entrant to SP.

[Even Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Kishenchand Advani and other BJP leader wear skullcaps and throw such parties. They have also visited Dargahs lately. Specially the Ajmer dargah is favourite for most of them.]

Of course, most of them who otherwise love to have photographers around, often regret that their picture was taken at the particular moment.

With elections just 12 days from now, we will see more interesting news and mini-controversies propped up every day. Mostly it's the rival candidates or the dissidents in one's own camp who try to raise such controversies.

However, the electorate seem to have become mature enough to look through the reality and that's the reason that after a flutter for a day or two, such controversies dies a natural death because voters don't react as per the 'expectations'.

[*Lucknow is all set to witness an interesting battle between BJP' Lalji Tandon, BSP's Akhilesh Das and Nafisa Ali along with Congress' Rita Bahuguna Joshi. Ulema Council's Amaresh Mishra is also in the fray.]
Such photos of Varun when he visited Pilibhit in the past, now appear shocking. But that's what politics is all about, at least, in India.
BJP Baffled

It was interesting to see that when some Muslim politicians act as per BJPs expectations, the party leaders accuse them of 'not being secular'. Senior BJP leader and national executive member Tathagata Roy told Salim that he had himself witnessed the CPI (M) leader participating in the religious event and that's why he can't be secular. [Statesman March 25, 2009]

Photos: Congress candidate from Betul Aslam Sher Khan seen paying obeisance at a temple. The other photo shows Mulayam Singh Yadav who keeps getting flak for being pro-Muslim and for appeasing Muslims though he has never offered Namaz as per my knowledge.