Senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionary Indresh Kumar, said on Tuesday that Indian Muslims are patriotic like any other citizen of this country.
Kumar was speaking in the context of a controversial statement made by the BJP MP from West Delhi, Parvesh Verma.
Verma's earlier comment that Muslims have never cast their vote for the BJP and never will "as it is a patriotic party", has already stoked a row.
The opposition parties, especially the Congress have already launched a scathing attack on BJP stating that it would incite ‘communal violence’.
“I can’t say exactly in what context the BJP MP made that statement… may be in a casual manner or in a lighter vein, but Indian Muslims are patriotic, there is no doubt about it,” Indresh Kumar, national convener of Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), an RSS-affiliate body, told Firstpost.
On 17 December, during an interaction with the media, after addressing a gathering at Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, Verma had said, “Hum kisi vote bank ki chinta nahin karte. Muslim kabhi na humein vote kiya hai aur na karenge…Isliye ki BJP ek rashtrabhakt party hai. Hamein kisi samudai ki chinta nahi hai (We don’t care about any vote bank. Muslims have never voted for us and they never will… Because the BJP is a patriotic party, that’s why Muslims don’t vote for us. We don’t care about any particular community).”
Parvesh Verma is the son of former Delhi chief minister late Sahib Singh Verma.
“May be the MP had wanted to say that the Muslims should come out openly and support (BJP), and shouldn’t be under any fear. In this context I would like to emphasise that if a Muslim sings National Anthem or hoists the National Flag, it’s dubbed an act of ‘saffronisation or BJP-karan of Muslims’." Kumar said.
Kumar also criticised the negative connotation that he alleged was commonly associated with patriotism and the BJP.
"This is ridiculous. Is the slogan ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ an exclusive right of BJP? Doesn’t other political parties like Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP, etc have equal right on it? Why it’s not dubbed as ‘Congress-isation’ when they raised this slogan? Through this kind of negative perception-building, patriotism, nationalism and loyalty towards nation have been shifted to BJP camp with a negative connotation. This is wrong,” Kumar added.
MRM is an initiative of former RSS chief KS Sudarshan to allow the Sangh Parivar to reach out to Muslims, with an aim of bringing Hindu and Muslim communities in India closer together.
“Indian Muslims are patriotic. If any particular section among them hasn’t voted for BJP or stayed away from the party, it might have been due to ignorance, illiteracy, due to socio-political issues or poverty. Even a man doesn’t remember god, if he’s in dire hunger; here it’s about a political party,” said Girish Juyal, national organizing convener of MRM.
“The statement may be Verma’s personal view, which might have arisen due to his personal observation of the situation in his constituency. It can’t be universal. But now with Modiji’s leadership as a PM and Indreshji spearheading the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, the perception among Muslims has witnessed a change. Due to several initiatives undertaken by the central government, especially for the youth, the Muslim community has got more integrated and getting closer to BJP,” added Juyal.
Besides, MRM, the academicians and experts on Islamic studies have also strongly dismissed Verma’s statement against Muslim voters.
“99% of Muslims are nationalist and pro-India and identify themselves as Indians, but it’s also true that 99% of Islamic clerics and Muslim leaders believe only in Islamic globalization. At practical level, Indian Muslims are diverse in their life-style and identify themselves as patriots, whereas at theoretical level, they identify themselves with the homogenous global Islamic group. What the BJP MP has said is practically not true,” observed Tufail Ahmad, Executive Director at Open Source Institute, a Delhi-based think tank on Islamic studies.
However, Zafar Sareshwala, chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University is more scathing in his remarks.
“The statement shows the perverse mindset of the MP. He should learn from PM Narendra Modi and his party president Amit Shah, who have worked towards integration of the Muslim community in these two-and-half years period. The PM said in the Parliament that no one should either ask for or give certificate of nationalism. By making such a statement against the community, he has displayed his ignorance in public,” Sareshwala remarked.
Quoting the poll data from Modi's native state Gujarat and the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Sareshwala added, “The skepticism about the Muslim community’s reservations about voting for the BJP was laid to rest during Gujarat polls in 2012, followed by the general election in 2014. In Gujarat assembly election, nearly 25% Muslims had voted for Modiji and he won for the third time. Similarly, in general election, more number of Muslims voted for BJP than ever. Given this fact, the BJP MP himself is damaging the ethos built-up by the BJP than anybody else.”
Updated Date: Dec 20, 2016 18:06 PM