Times are changing, Muslim hostility to Modi softening: Jamiat leader Maulana Madani
RAHUL KANWAL | New Delhi, February 17, 2013 | 16:01
As makeover, Modi sheds his global pariah tag and stands on the cusp of acceptability, there’s also a churning taking place in the hard line Deoband seminary whose sway over Muslims straddles the entire subcontinent. In the first sign of a softening of stand in India’s most conservative and radical school of Islam towards the Gujarat Chief Minister, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind general secretary Maulana Mehmood Madani admitted there’s a change in the Muslim psyche towards Modi and a section of Muslims had voted for him.
“In Gujarat, Jamiat workers on the ground have told me that in several Assembly segments, Muslims voted for Modi. There is a perceptible change of heart and circumstances are different now. I agree the times are changing. Muslims in Gujarat are economically better off than in several states which have so-called secular governments in power,” he told Rahul Kanwal in an exclusive interview on Seedhi Baat.
This statement from the Jamiat – the political offshoot of Darul Uloom, Deoband, that holds the pulse of millions of Muslims and is the final word in Islamic jurisprudence – is a covert endorsement for Modi in the run-up to his Delhi crowning. Modi may no longer be an untouchable for a community which accused him of masterminding one of the biggest anti-Muslim pogroms.” More innocent Muslims are wallowing in prisons of Maharashtra than in Gujarat. The human rights record of several states with secular governments in power is deplorable and the economic situation of Muslims in West Bengal is shocking. These states don’t have a Modi at the helm. This is a ground reality we can’t ignore,” said Madani.
The Madani family which controls Deoband and played a critical role in the dramatic coup to oust the seminary’s rector Maulana Vastanvi for his pro-Modi remark, may be actually softening their hawkish stand. To a query on whether Muslims will accept Modi as Prime Minister, Madani did not vent his spleen as Deobandi hawks are wont to do. “It’s too early to comment. Even the BJP has not decided on its PM’s face. Let the time come, we will react.”
But the BJP may not longer be a pariah for Muslims in the run-up to the 2014 elections. Madani said, “Just not in Gujarat, even in Bihar, Muslims have voted for BJP, which is in alliance with a secular party, the JD(U). There’s a thaw in hostility towards BJP. There’s a change of heart in Gujarat. But I am not sure if the Bihar-Gujarat experience will set the trend and become a pan-India phenomenon for the BJP,” he said.
But while Madani was cautious about not toeing Vastanvi’s line on Modi, he did not mince words to condemn the execution of Parliament attack mastermind Afzal Guru. “It was hasty and surreptitious move. Afzal Guru’s hanging smacked of Maoist justice delivered in kangaroo courts. The denial of his last wish to meet his family is a blatant human rights violation. It was a political execution, a knee-jerk reaction from a government which was trying to prove that it’s not soft on terror to cut the rising tide of Modi and his imminent march to Delhi.
Madani also said Guru’s hanging has dealt a big blow to those fighting for human rights and campaigning against terrorism. “We in the Jamiat will suffer. We had moved a resolution in Deoband on Kashmir and rallied support for the government at the Ramilila Ground in Delhi. Now this clandestine execution will hurt our efforts and boomerang on the government. How will we face our community now,” asked Madani.
He also condemned Shinde’s remark on Hindu terrorism. “For several years, terror unleashed by jihadi groups was given the colour of Islam. And no one objected. I raised this issue in Parliament also, but nobody heard us. This was very unfortunate. And now Shinde’s statement on Hindu terrorism is equally condemnable.”
The Jamiat leader’s views could well send alarm bells ringing in the Congress which has assiduously cultivated the country’s oldest and most influential Muslim organisation over the years to woo the Muslim electorate.