Antulay’s vote bank politics
Abdul Rehman Antulay, the Union Minister for Minorities, thought that by saying that the death of ATS Chief Hemant Karkare in the recent terror attacks was suspicious, he could be a hero to Indian Muslims . However, I rather doubt that Antulay has impressed his vote bank. For one thing he has not done much for Indian Muslims despite being the Minorities Minister. Perhaps it was to cover up his dismal track record that he went out of his way to say that he wondered why the ATS Chief went in the direction of CST station and then Cama hospital (where the terrorists ran) instead of the Taj and Trident where a major attack was on. On the face of it, a rather dense statement by Antulay considering that the Taj and the Trident were attacked a good half an hour after CST station. And even Leopold Cafe was attacked about 15 minutes after CST. In the CST massacre, around 60 people were randomly gunned down and then the terrorists ran away. It was most logical for Karkare to rushto the spot to follow them! But like MJ Akbar says, Antulay was not interested in the truth or saying anything intelligent. He wanted to please his vote bank.
The Congress is Maharashtra is in deep trouble and in the coming elections it is thought that the Congress will crash out – after a decade long rule in the state. Antulay was trying to keep his seat hot…no matter if his statement flew in the face of logic, no matter if it was a slap in the face of his own government. At least now (he thought) he could a hero to his community.
It would be indeed a cause for worry if Antulay really pleased his vote bank by talking like this. If some sections of the Muslim community actually believed that some Hindus opposed to Karkare decided to take this opportunity to lure him into the lion’s den. But it’s a ridiculous premise (that Karkare’s enemies lured him) because Karkare wanted to follow the terrorists, that was his very aim! In any case, no one knew exactly where the terrorists were. So, if Antulay was trying to say that elements in the radical Hindu parties who would have liked to see the end of Karkare were in cahoots with the Pakistanis (perhaps in wireless touch with them?), this is the joke of the year. Well, Antulay’s remarks may be stupid, but some sections of the Urdu press are supporting him. But only some sections. The Urdu press is divided on the issue and in fact many have also called Antulay’s statement “irresponsible.” The Urdu daily Inquilab slammed Antulay in it’s 19th December editorial titled `Ek bayan do nuksaan (One statement, two losses),’ said:
…by raising doubts over the circumstances of Hemant Karkare’s death, Antulay not only unwittingly rejuvenated the Sangh Parivar who were on the defensive but also harmed the Muslim cause. “After the massacre in Mumbai, Muslims had joined the country in denouncing terrorism. They justifiably received wide acclaim from the national media. It was a positive wave of national solidarity against terrorism which Antulay tried to spoil with his irresponsible statement…
Yes, the Sangh Parivar (Shiv Sena and co.) has always cast aspersions on the patriotism of Muslims, and now Antulay has given them fodder. So not only did Antulay not think of his party, his government, or his country, he also failed his fellow Muslims in his desperate bid to save himself in the next general election. This is the stuff of communal riots.
I personally have no respect for Antulay. Way back in 1982 when he was chief minister of Maharashtra he was convicted of extortion. In fact it is well known that he is corrupt – he had collected Rs 30 crore from businesses (by exhortion) dependent on state resources like cement and kept the money in a private trust! However this man was taken back in the Congress party after some years and even made a Union Minister!
And funnily this happened even though Antulay was known to have a good relationship with Balasaheb Thackeray of the Shiv Sena and had almost joined the party once!
And as mentioned earlier, Antulay has also been accused of not doing much for his own community, always more interested in his own perks and position rather than improving the welfare of his community. He has faced criticism for delaying important projects.
While everyone is free to give his views in a democracy, telling deliberate lies to create a communal divide is not acceptable. But in India this happens all the time. And playing vote bank politics and using religion to garner votes also happens in India all the time. One would have hoped that the Congress party would have desisted from playing vote bank politics at a time when the nation is at threat.
The Antulay crises may have blown over but communal tensions have been stoked. It’s not the international community that we need worry about because everyone knows the truth. What we need to worry about is about relationships between communities in this country.
(Photo is from Telegraph India)
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