|Both Mayawati and Mulayam did not mind sacrificing the interests of the farmers, workers, kirana shopkeepers, consumers, etc., which they insisted would be jeopardized by FDI in retail, in order not to be seen voting with the “communal” BJP.|
Asif Ibrahim will be the next Intelligence Bureau chief.
Indian Muslims never had it so good
The UPA government seems to be cursed. Even when it does real good work hardly anyone gives it credit. Of course, its own PR machinery fails to sell its successes.
And, mind you, these are no ordinary successes the government has notched up in recent months. Only if you realise how difficult it is to strike strong blows for secularism in these days of aggressive majoritarianism can you appreciate these achievements.
Indeed, it may be a sheer coincidence but the cause of secularism has triumphed in all three branches of what we call the system of governance. For, the executive, legislature and judiciary have all taken important decisions in recent weeks which taken together have bolstered the cause of secularism. In order that credit is given where it is due, let us briefly list all the good things which have happened to Indian secularism.
The legislature first. As is by now widely known, both Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav did not mind sacrificing the interests of the farmers, workers, kirana shopkeepers, consumers, etc., which they insisted would be jeopardized by FDI in multi-brand retail, in order not to be seen voting with the “communal” BJP. If the Communists voted with the BJP, well, it was well-known that they were always soft on communalism. Mayawati and Yadav duly burnished their secular image by ensuring the defeat of the BJP-sponsored motions in the two Houses of Parliament and thus struck a big blow for secularism. It was a mere coincidence that their secularist conduct resulted in saving the government humiliation both inside and outside Parliament.
The political executive, on its part, was not lagging behind either in championing secularism. With secularism as its sole guide, it took the decision to appoint Syed Asif Ibrahim as the next chief of Intelligence Bureau even though it meant the supercession of as many as four officers senior to him. Now, whether or not the credit should be given to Ahmed Patel, Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, or someone else, there can be no denying that this would be the first time ever since the founding of the Republic that IB would be headed by a Muslim.
One is told that even under the British, the 125-year-old IB was denied an opportunity to be headed by a Muslim. So, you can imagine the wondrous feat of the government in appointing Ibrahim as the next Director, IB. Only a fool will deny that the government has served the cause of secularism well, even if it meant tinkering with the established hierarchy in the Indian Police Service. It is complete hogwash that sensitive matters concerning J&K, Pakistan, ISI-inspired jihadi terror, etc., cannot be entrusted to a Muslim. Being a secular government, it must rightly dismiss these fears with the contempt it deserves.
As for the higher judiciary, merely because the media is amiss in not taking adequate notice of its various pronouncements, it does not mean that it is not imbued with the secularist zeal. Indeed, a couple of developments bear testimony to its abiding faith in our secular Constitution. For one, Altamas Kabir, Chief Justice of India, deserves full credit for the proposed elevation of three new judges — namely, M.Y. Eqbal, currently chief justice of the Madras High Court, Vikramjit Sen, CJ, Karnataka, and V. Gopalagowda, CJ, Orissa.
Justice Eqbal is a Muslim, Justice Sen a Christian, and Justice Gopalagowda a Hindu. Of course, their religious faith is incidental to their elevation to the highest court of the land. A collegium of SC judges headed by CJI Kabir has recommended the names of Justices Eqbal, Sen and Gopalagowda for promotion to the Apex Court.
Notably, with Justice Eqbal’s elevation, the Supreme Court will have three Muslim judges, the highest number again since the founding of the Indian Supreme Court.
This is not all. It is not appreciated enough that a Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Kabir had stayed the demolition of a mosque in Subhash Park, near Jama Masjid, Old Delhi. A three-member bench of the Delhi High Court headed by the then Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri, now the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, had ordered the Matia Mahal MLA, Shoib Iqbal, to stop the illegal construction of a mosque at a place dug up by the Delhi Metro for expansion of its network.
Regardless, Iqbal went ahead and built a mosque on the very site, arguing that a 17th century Akbarbadi mosque had existed there in an earlier era. Not only was Iqbal held guilty of the contempt of court but the Delhi High Court had ordered the demolition of the illegally built mosque. That was in July. For months, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the Delhi government and the Delhi police blamed one another for not implementing the High Court order.
But Iqbal saved all the local authorities blushes by approaching the highest court of the land. And he duly got the relief he was looking for. A bench headed by Justice Kabir stayed the Delhi High Court order for the demolition of the unauthorizedly built mosque on a piece of land which was hitherto a public park owned by the Delhi Municipal Corporation. Thanks to the stay order, Iqbal also saved himself from being hauled up for contempt of court. The mosque he built illegally stands erect in all its glory, though the matter is set to come up in the courts again.
Now, taken together the above actions of the three branches of the Constitution ought to redound to the credit of an otherwise beleaguered Congress Party. For, such a cumulative blow for secularism had not been struck even in the time of Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Clearly, with a Sikh as Prime Minister, secularism is truly beginning to thrive in the country.
Only the spoilsports will rake up serious socio-economic issues bedevilling the existence of the Muslim community and talk about hard steps required to pull it out from the economic and mental ghettos in which it seems to have fallen. Thanks to the cumulative effect of policies followed by avowedly secular Congress governments since Independence, and, of course, due to the backward-looking Muslim leadership, the community had fallen far behind in social, educational and economic fields. Feeling satisfied with the actions listed above only illustrates how the Muslim leadership has settled for tokenism instead of demanding, or at least striving for, concrete steps to ameliorate the lot of the community.