Secularism versus communal-ism debate is need of hour. By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani


Dalit-Muslim rally in Ahmedabad on 31st July 2016 followed by resignation of Mr. Anandiben patel could serve as an eye opener for the BJP. BJP should take serious note of the ground realities in its true perspective. If BJP is ambitious to be an alternative for Congress then it should grasp positive lessons fromthe erstwhile congress rule at the Centre and in other key states like UP, Bihar, Gujarat and New Delhi.
Muslims, Dalits and the other OBCs are defenseless sections of the Indian society. All these communities put together form a big chunk. Of course, they lack education and other expertise unlike other forward communities but still their contributions, at lower levels can’t just be disregarded. As Office Assistants, Technicians, Plumbers, Electricians, Welders, Carpenters, Laborers, Scavengers, Drivers, Cleaners, Cart-pullers, and Porters their support is crucialfor all those in white-collar jobs.We are duty bound to recognize every singlecontribution?
Poor Dalit couples were hacked to death just because they could not afford to repay a loan of Rs 15? Self-proclaimed “GauRakshaks” have taken law into their own hands. It’s an undeniable tragedy that, as per the media reports from Rajastan, several Cows were left to perish by so so called Fake GauRakshaks??? Are they GauRakshaks or GauBhakshaks??? Advocating Hindu unity on one hand, and attacking Dalits by “GauRakshaks” on the other hand??? Unforgettable tragedy is, “Hindus are attacking Hindus” under misguided religious belief of safeguarding Hindu Dharma?
The BJP and allied Hindutva fronts have made deep inroads among sections of communities such as Dalits and Adivasis, who form a large chunk of Gujarat's 'Hindu' population, who were traditionally opposed to the 'upper-caste-controlled Hindutva groups and were once earlier strong Congress vote-banks.
'The Congress is totally ineffective as an opposition force in Gujarat', 'In the last six decades, the Congress did precious little for the Dalits and Adivasis besides taking their votes and so the BJP has taken over. There's no difference, as far as Dalits and Adivasis are concerned, between the two—they both represent broadly the same dominant caste-class groups. Hinduvta fronts are desperately trying to Hinduise the Dalits and Adivasis, to use them as foot-soldiers against the Muslims, setting them against each other so that 'upper' caste rule remains unchallenged',
unity between Dalits, Backward Castes, Adivasis and Muslims, who together form the overwhelming majority of Gujarat's population, is the only way to challenge the BJP and the Congress, In the wake of the state-sponsored anti-Muslim genocide in 2002, scores of NGOs entered Gujarat to provide relief, but today, few of them are involved in anti-communal work. 'Many of them made tall promises of working for empowerment, for Dalit-Muslim unity, for taking on the Hindutva lobby and so on. They got lots of money to fund big projects but nothing much has come of this'. 'And then there are so many stories of corruption in the NGO circuit', 'the only effective opposition is within the BJP itself one can see of how the focus solely on communalism in Gujarat has led to an obscuring in secular political discourse of the widespread oppression of Dalits and Adivasis in the state. 'The secularists, self-proclaimed secularists such as the Congress, and the Hindutva lobby all focus only on the issue of Hindu-Muslim relations, thus effectively ignoring the Adivasis and Dalits','Of course there is need to work for communal harmony rights of the Muslims and Christians, but that must go along with strengthening of the struggles of the Adivasis and Dalits.
Hindutva forces seek to whip up anti-Muslim sentiments precisely to sabotage the growing awareness of the Adivasis and Dalits about the oppression that they suffer at the hands of the caste Hindu establishment'. 'Hence',communalism cannot be defeated without taking up the caste issue, without working to unite the oppressed castes and the Muslims at the political and social level against the system of caste-class oppression of which they are the common victims'. people make Dalit and Adivasi issues, along with the plight of Muslims, the centre of a new social, cultural and political movement, which alone can challenge the 'upper' caste Hindu hegemony which both the BJP and the Congress represent and defend.
Godhra, a town located in Gujarat's Panchmahals district, a two hours' journey from Ahmedabad, has a roughly equal Hindu and Muslim population. This obscure town shot into the limelight when, in 2002, a coach of a train caught fire near the town's railway station, triggering off a massacre of Muslims throughout Gujarat on an unprecedented scale. Today, Godhra, like many other towns in Gujarat, is geographically completely polarized. A narrow river divides the town into two clearly Hindu and Muslim areas. .
From ancient times to this day, 'upper' caste forces, including today the Congress and the Hindutva lobby, have used culture, including religion, to oppress us. We now must use those very tools to challenge our oppression'.'We need to bring the Dalits and other marginalized communities, besides the Muslims, back into Gujarat's political discourse', 'We need to shift the discourse from the secularism versus communalism debate to bring to the centre issues of caste-class domination and subjugation','Only then can Hindutva be effectively challenged, not just in Gujarat, but in the rest of the country as well'.
Double standards of Prime Minister on the issue of atrocities on dalits that he preached one thing while practiced another. Referring to the recent statement of PM that people should kill him instead of dalits, reminded him of Thangadh incident in which three dalits were killed in police firing in Gujarat.
That at that time Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat holding charge of Home department. But he did not ask police to kill him instead of dalits. Many leaders visited Thangadh to share victims sorrow, but Modi did not utter even a single word. Later, Modi ordered a judicial probe under pressure from Congress. The commission submitted its report long back but Modi has not allowed the report to be tabled in the Assembly till the date. Dalits of Thangadh have not got justice.
People want justice from a person holding important post of Prime Minister and not crocodile’s tears. That there was a provision of a committee under the leadership of Chief Minister for the review of cases of atrocity on Dalits. Leader of Opposition and some MLAs are members of this committee. During 2007-12, when Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat, this committee had met only once, . It should meet once in six months. It shows anti dalit mind set of BJP and Modi.
A district- wise study of atrocity cases revealed that in 91 to 97 per cent cases accused were acquitted which showed that BJP was not serious in getting justice to dalits. It did not go for appeal in these cases. Poor dalits and landless labourers were given land earlier, but no land was given after Modi coming to power in Gujarat. In reply to a question in the Assembly government has accepted that in many temples in 8 districts dalits are not allowed to enter.
The report on atrocity on dalits in Thangadh on 1/5/2013 and CEPT report on untouchability are ready but BJP government in not tabling them in Assembly. Giving another example of anti dalit psyche of BJP, he said that in five years, 2010 to 2014, there were 9526 cases of atrocity were registered. However, there is conviction only in 29 cases, in 1135 accused have been acquitted while 8360 cases are pending. Thus conviction rate of 2.97 percent only. There is a wide gap between the national average of conviction in atrocity cases, which is 22 percent, and the conviction rate in Gujarat, which is 2.97 percent.
Dalits never kill a cow is a known fact. Despite this referring to Una incident BJP whip T Raja had said that dalits were killing cow in Una and showered filthy abuses on them. BJP did not take any action against T Raja. On the contrary, he was on the airport to receive Modi when he went to Telangana recently. This is an example of contrast of Modi’s preaching and practice.
Baroda based political analyst and human rights activist DR. Bandukwala told:" GUJARAT SIYASAT" that Muslim presence at the Ahmedabad Dalit rally on July 31 was significant.It reflects the growing Dalit Muslim understanding at the grass root level. This linkage is to the advantage of both communities. Currently most Muslims are poor and illiterate. Their economic level is comparable to that of Dalits. This was realized thirty years ago. Elections in 1989 in Gujarat and Maharashtra saw a joint fight between Dalits and Muslims. Unfortunately it did not last long.
He further added that Today Dalits are eager for Muslim support. Muslims should give it to them.But its impact in Gujarat may be marginal, as Dalits are just 7 %, while Muslims are under 10 %. If Muslim join hands with a third party, such as the Congress, it can defeat the BJP in Gujarat in December 2017. That would be a huge blow to Modi. Yet the impact in UP can be substantial,where Dalit population is 20 %,and is comparable to that of Muslims. That would give it about 40 %,which would lead to victory. The right approach is for Muslims in UP to support BSP.
Muslim must make a clear compact with Mayawati. They cannot afford to be cheated yet again. Over the years Muslims have been cheated by political parties. Each party puts up a few Muslim candidates, and projects a Muslim leader. But experience shows that the Muslim leader so projected becomes more loyal to the alliance leader, and much less to the Muslim community.Most important secular people have to defeat the BJP at any cost. That party hates us.Its entire existence is to reduce Muslims to second class status,he concluded.
If Dalits and Muslims join hands for good, they would be a force to reckon with. And for the BJP in Gujarat, where the 10-month-old Patel agitation has shaken the party's core high caste support, the alliance would spell disaster.

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