Saffron promises and performance

Saffron promises… 

Jan 24, 1993, The Indian Express 
‘Advani promises Muslim welfare’ 
AHMEDABAD: The Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) president, Mr. LK Advani warned Muslims to be aware of both Congress and their leaders and repose faith in the BJP…When a newsman sought to know the measures the BJP was contemplating for the welfare of Muslims to win their confidence, Mr. Advani said, “The BJP will protect their lives and they will enjoy equal justice.” Asked why he chose to skip the Muslim affected areas (due to riots) or relief camps in Ahmedabad, he quipped, “It’s a good suggestion for action.”

April 15, 1994, The Economic Times 
BJP bid to shake off anti-Muslim image
NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party seems to have begun to feel concerned over the anti-Muslim tag that has come to stick to it and it likely to embark on an exercise to shake it off. A serious effort in that direction was made at the recent Sariska conclave of the BJP’s top brass with the senior vice-president, Mr KR Malkani, spelling out the concern over the party having been branded as an anti-Muslim outfit. 

March 29, 1995, The Statesman
Muslims have nothing to fear under BJP rule: Keshubhai
NEW DELHI: Muslims have nothing to fear under the rule of the BJP government in Gujarat and can look forward to getting a much better deal than what they got during Congress(I) rule, the state chief minister, Mr. Keshubhai Patel has said. “You will see how well we treat Muslims and other minorities under our rule”, the new chief minister said, adding that his party believed that Muslims were as patriotic as Hindus, but had been “misled and misused by the Congress(I). 

April 21, 1995, The Indian Express
BJP tries to win over Muslims with Sanskrit Koran
BOMBAY: The Koran in Sanskrit? The idea is not as bizarre as it may seem. His is the spoonful of honey for the Muslim minority in the country… The in-camera convention of top BJP executives, including chief ministers, deputy chief ministers and leaders of Opposition, which got underway on Thursday, has been called to finalise poll strategies for the Lok Sabha elections which the BJP expects might take place earlier than scheduled. High on the agenda is a follow-up of the resolutions with regard to the minorities at the Goa convention of the party early this month whereby, following BJP president LK Advani’s call to “remove misconceptions (about the BJP) in the minds of the minorities”, the party resolved to revive the earlier Congress slogan of Hindu-Muslim bhai-bhai. The more well-known of the resolutions were the three Ts – taaleem (education), tanzeem (organisation) and tijarat (employment) for Muslims.

May 2, 1996, The Telegraph
Advani ‘guarantees’ justice to Muslims
MUMBAI: The BJP president, Mr. LK Advani, today extended a “guarantee to every Muslim” of “security, justice, equality and full freedom of faith and worship.” Going all out to woo the community in the last lap of the party’s campaign, he said “no BJP government will tolerate any dilution of this guarantee.”

May 19, 1996, Mid–Day
Full protection to Muslims: Vajpayee
NEW DELHI: …In a long interview to a private television channel, Vajpayee said that all Muslims should be able to live with self-respect and honour. “For this, Muslims should give all support to my government”, he said  adding that he could not understand why the community was keeping away the mainstream”. 

June 16, 1997, The Times of India
Advani uses every trick to woo Muslim voter
BHOPAL: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president, LK Advani, on Friday praised Jawaharal Nehru for his secular policies and promised to create a riot-free, violence-free and discrimination-free India when the BJP comes to power at the Centre.

November 15, 1997, The Asian Age
BJP plans a grand Muslim convention
NEW DELHI: In what will be a show of Muslim support for the BJP, the party’s youth wing, headed by Ms Uma Bharati, is planning a grand convention on December 4 which will be attended by over 5,000 members of the community.
According to the party, such a large number of Muslims attending a BJP conference itself will send the signal that the community was not averse to it any longer. “In a scenario where elections are expected any moment, such a message will be crucial for us. We will use the opportunity to wash the communal taint”, BJP sources told The Asian Age. 

May 3, 1999, The Hindustan Times
BJP’s image as anti-Muslim party blunted: Vajpayee
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today said his bus initiative to Lahore had greatly blunted the “false image” of the BJP of being an anti-Muslim party. 
May 8, 1999, The Times of India
‘BJP will get Muslim votes’
NEW DELHI: The BJP finds a “radical change” in the attitude of Muslim voters and is confident of getting “a major share of their votes” in the coming Lok Sabha polls as the party has given them a feeling of national pride unlike the so-called secular parties which always portrayed them in a poor light”, minister for information and broadcasting Mukhtar bbas Naqvi said. 

September 8, 1999, The Times of India
PM appeals for Muslim votes
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Tuesday asked voters to make the Opposition “pay the price” for bringing down his government and give a clear decisive majority to the BJP-led coalition…Making a special appeal to the minorities (during his election broadcast on Doordarshan), Mr Vajpayee said national unity without a firm commitment to secularism was unthinkable. He said that contrary to the propaganda of “our adversaries”, the past 17 months have been remarkably free from communal tension. 

September 11, 2000, The Asian Age
BJP trying to woo Muslims for more votes: Sher Khan 
Former Union minister Aslam Sher Khan has blamed Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Union home minister LK Advani for not keeping their word about upliftment of minorities and said the BJP’s new incarnation is a well-calculated move to mislead minorities and dalits on the eve of Assembly elections in five states. Mr Sher Khan, who had joined the BJP in 1997 said that he quit the party within one year after realising that the BJP had no love for Muslims and dalits and wanted to use them as a ladder to achieve power.

…and performance

Two states, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, both under BJP rule, have truly imbibed saffron values of governance. For Muslims, Christians and Dalits inhabiting these two states in northern and western India, the past two years have meant living in vastly altered circumstances — always under threat, sometimes physically attacked. 
What has been the lived experience of India’s minorities in these two ‘laboratories of Hindu rashtra’?

  • Since 1998, when VHP-Bajrang Dal squads hounded Muslims out of their villages in Randhikpur and Sanjeli, life for the Muslim in Gujarat is marked. Where he lives,  what he eats, how he celebrates his festivals – everything is under close surveillance.
  • Last month, ‘retaliation’ against Gujarat’s Muslims for the killing of Amarnath yatris in Kashmir by Pakistan-inspired mercenaries, meant a loss of Rs 20 crore worth of Muslim property in Surat (powerlooms), Sabarkantha (printing presses) and elsewhere in the state. 
  • In July 1999, the Kargil war had its spillover in Ahmedabad’s own ‘war zones’ as BJP’s Yuva Morcha splashed provocative graffiti in Muslim areas to taunt and provoke Indian Muslims – “Ab to nagara baj chuka hai, sarhad pe shaitan ka/ Nakshe par se nam mita do, paapi Pakistan ka/ Khun se tilak karo, goliyon se arti/Pukarti hai yeh zameen, pukarti Ma Bharti”.
  • Muslims are forcibly prevented from buying property in ‘secular’ areas of Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Baroda and other Gujarat cities and forced to reside in ‘ghettoes’.
  • At the Hindu-managed VR Somani and Bhakta Vallabh schools, where 95 per cent of the students are Muslims but the teachers are Hindus, the teachers have adopted a unique technique of getting at the students: they just do not teach.
  • Muslim students and teachers in schools in many cities in Gujarat are forced to sit, or be invigilators, for examinations on Eid day.
  • In many Gujarati-medium schools run by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, at the beginning of the class, Muslim students are asked to sit separately. 
  • A recent circular by the Gujarat Education department will force all students to write their names on examination sheets of school and government examinations. This will leave the religious identity of the student in no doubt, making discrimination possible and introduction of the religious element in the assessment of answers. 
  • Dozens of prominent politicians belonging to the ruling BJP in Gujarat and its allied organisations, like the VHP and Bajrang Dal, have been named in police FIRs (see Communalism Combat, October 1998 and April 2000. The Gujarat DGP, CP Singh, even admitted to the culpability of these organisations but needless to say no action has been taken.
  • Since 1998, more than 200 Christian institutions – both secular and religious — have been attacked and Christian religious persons killed or assaulted; a vast majority of these attacks have taken place in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.
  • A virtual curfew during Christmas at the Dangs in south Gujarat in 1998 was a shameful travesty of the Indian Constitution. In December 1999, too, despite protests, Christians in the area had to suffer protests and terror.
  • The echelons of the higher judiciary and the police and paramilitary are being filled with devoted RSS followers committed to a sectarian and inequitous polity.
  • Not a single educational institution has been granted minority status during the entire tenure of the BJP in UP, off and on since 1990.
  • As of now, not a single district magistrate or a superintendent of police in UP is a Muslim.
  • The UP state Minorities Commission was scrapped during Kalyan Singh’s first tenure. Under pressure of a coalition partner, the Gupta-led ministry has now revived the commission; but only in name.
  • In 1998, Kalyan Singh’s tenure was marked by gross human rights violations, wherein most of the victims of brutal encounters by the state police were Dalits and Muslims;
  • In 1998, the UP minister of state for home announced an insidious plan linking every state-run school to the local RSS sarsanghchalak (known as the kulp yojana, it ran into rough weather after a storm of protests but it has not been formally withdrawn); Neither Keshubhai Patel’s promise of 1995 — “You will see how well we treat Muslims and other minorities under our rule” – nor LK Advani’s 1996 ‘guarantee to every Muslim” — “security, justice, equality and full freedom of faith and worship,” — has been of much help to the hapless Muslims and Christians of Gujarat. Bangaru Laxman’s invitation to Muslims notwithstanding, apparently, Hindutva and religious minorities simply don’t mix!



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