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Bihar elections – A lost opportunity for Muslims

Source : The Hindu

2020 Bihar elections have sufficiently demonstrated how delinking the question of representation from ideology while arguing for proportionate representation would result in a mad race for securing pelf’s and privileges with the end result being counterproductive to Muslim interests.

With two new alliances, Upendra Kushwaha led Grand Democratic Secular Front and Pappu Yadav led Progressive Democratic Alliance besides the NDA & Mahagathbandhan in the electoral fray in Bihar the Muslim vote is headed for a definite four-way split. Among the many myths about Bihar, one that deserves special mention here is that the Muslims vote en bloc. This actually, is true for other parts of the country as well with minor adjustments. Such has been the image of Nitish Kumar that Muslims have voted for him even when he has been in alliance with the BJP. It’s also true that despite the popular outrage against the right-wing party the Muslims at some locations do vote for the BJP as well.

However, much to the delight of Muslim masses this time all four alliances in Bihar have fielded Muslim candidates. It is another matter that the constituents of alliances are such that it is baffling to comprehend and reconcile their differences. There seems to be no ideological coherence in the collage of alliance that Bihar has put up, except for the war-cry of secularism. In the wake of their irreconcilable differences what has remotely managed to give them legitimacy is a Muslim name.  It is only to maintain this charade and legitimize their war cry the alliances have fielded Muslim candidates. With a nominal Muslim name, the alliances have managed to fill in the hollowed secular space. What will be the electoral outcome of this shrewd strategy will be known in a week, but what it has achieved by way of honeytrap is no less significant.

The community that seemed to have come together after the prolonged countrywide protests against CAA-NRC, has splintered in Bihar for the cause of secular “apologetic” politics.

Muslim political forces in Bihar failed to build on the gains made during the CAA-NRC protests and succumbed to the lure of power that the renewed political landscape in Bihar presented. Delighted at their acceptability and with an ambition to increase their representation, they chose to walk in four different directions. The chimaera of Muslim unity and the possibilities of reinvigorating Muslim politics, that only a few months back seemed possible, disappeared.

With no central leadership, with no common charter of demands and no political outfit to voice their concerns in unequivocal terms, Muslim political leaders left in isolation to fend for themselves whatever crumbs they could from the four alliances, leaving the community high and dry, and their followers fighting like cats and dogs amongst themselves.

Of the four alliances in Bihar, no one has made it clear what they will do for Muslims. Even Muslims have no common charter of demands. No wonder the alliances would not bother to break their head if they are getting such loyalty free of cost. As for the friends, relatives and acquaintances, all that matters is that their candidate should win, for the masses who do not know the candidate every election is like an India Pakistan match, where defeating the BJP like defeating Pakistan is the ultimate thrill.

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