The innocent tagline of ‘The Underage Optimist’ neither makes Chetan Bhagat’s column in Times of India optimistic nor Chetan Bhagat himself an underage. His column of today, i.e., September 25, 2011 (Don’t let them divide and rule anymore; page 24) is rather demonstrating the coming of age, as far his ideological and political leanings are concerned.
Let me first summarise what he said:
- He considers himself a part of majority and therefore candidly admits that he is not in a position to advise the minorities
- He lists out certain groups of minorities in India, in the beginning, but reserves the remaining column solely to Muslims
- He thinks we ended up with dishonest people in society right at the top, because we didn’t exercise our voting in the right manner.
- Some politicians fool Muslims by playing vote bank politics, promising to be saviours of minority and asking their votes in return
- Muslims are the most wooed among minorities, because of their sheer numbers
- This voting as vote bank resulted in bad politicians being elected over the years and that in turn caused all kind of problems for the country including inflation
- Therefore, he calls upon Muslims to ‘keep the heat on politicians’ by ‘not committing their votes or loyalty to any political party forever’
- Indians are craving for change- so Muslims have to put the nation before their religion now!
- Muslims are part of a single vote bank based on religion.
- While other vote banks may exist they are not as ‘dangerous’ as Muslim vote bank, for the nation’s interests.
- Muslims have always let them be fooled by false promises. They merely vote on religious lines and are not interested in day to day problems of the common man
- Muslims have committed their votes or loyalty to particular political parties
- Muslims are responsible for bad politicians being elected till now and therefore for all the ills of this nation
- Muslims are a hindrance in the change that ‘significant part of population’ is craving for.
- Therefore, it is time for Muslims to put their nation before the religion.
Now let us look at the significant things conveniently left unsaid by Mr Bhagat:
- Which is the Political Party that Muslims have ‘committed their votes or loyalty forever?
- How the ‘significant part of population’ propose to bring the ‘change it is craving for’? Is it by a mere change in government or something more than that?
- What does he expect from the Muslims? Whom should they vote to, next time? Where should they get ‘on board’?
We have a Congress government in power now. The only viable alternative available today is BJP. Muslims are generally perceived as voting against BJP, though this cannot be substantiated. The perception is that unless BJP overcomes the objections of minorities, they cannot come to power at the national level. So, is Chetan Bhagat asking Muslims to switch sides to BJP?
I don’t find any problem with anybody asking vote for BJP or for any other party. It is a legitimate political activity. I am only pointing out the duplicity in this inllectualisation of a political activity! So, when Chetan Bhagat singles out Muslims and makes them responsible for the ‘change’ I naturally wonder what is cooking!
Mr Bhagat, every Indian votes as per what they consider is in their interest and in the interest of nation, in that order. If Muslims have voted for any particular party(ies) in the past it is because they considered that was in the interest of them as well as the nation. Muslims are as concerned as the members of majority are on issues like corruption, poverty, unemployment, inflation etc. However, no one can deny others the right to prioritise when their very identity and life are perceived to be in danger.
Chetan Bhagat ends his column with a question addressed to Indian Muslims, “Are you on board?” On board what, Mr Bhagat? Why don’t you enlighten us more about where all of us (including Muslims) who have not voted in the interest of nation in the past should get on board? If there is a problem with the party in power, Muslims alone are not guilty for that. 15% of the Muslim votes, even if consolidated on the basis of religion, cannot solely decide who governs India. It requires the votes of substantive portion of the ‘majority’ votes as well. So, some part of the blame is applicable on others in the majority as well?
Chetan Bhagat is a widely read writer. He has the flair and sophistication to put forth any message in subtle ways. What Narendra Modi will say in crude political language, you can expect Chetan Bhagat to put forth in a more subtle way? But the fact remains there is no difference in what both Modi and Bhagat said.
What Mr Bhagat did looks like an effort to try and ‘divide’ Indian voters on the basis of their religion so that he can ensure the ‘change’ that the ‘significant part of population’ is craving for. He should only have been more honest in seeking vote for BJP or pointing out a third viable alternative!