Sunday, September 25, 2011

What Chetan Bhagat Actually Said to Indian Muslims?

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:
  1. He considers himself a part of majority and therefore candidly admits that he is not in a position to advise the minorities
  2. He lists out certain groups of minorities in India, in the beginning, but reserves the remaining column solely to Muslims
  3. 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.
  4.  Some politicians fool Muslims by playing vote bank politics, promising to be saviours of minority and asking their votes in return
  5. Muslims are the most wooed among minorities, because of their sheer numbers
  6.  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
  7.  Therefore, he calls upon Muslims to ‘keep the heat on politicians’ by ‘not committing their votes or loyalty to any political party forever’
  8.  Indians are craving for change- so Muslims have to put the nation before their religion now!
The above points clearly establish some assumptions used by Chetan Bhagat.  Let us looks at them:
  1. Muslims are part of a single vote bank based on religion.
  2. While other vote banks may exist they are not as ‘dangerous’ as Muslim vote bank, for the nation’s interests.
  3. 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
  4. Muslims have committed their votes or loyalty to particular political parties 
  5. Muslims are responsible for bad politicians being elected till now and therefore for all the ills of this nation
  6. Muslims are a hindrance in the change that ‘significant part of population’ is craving for.  
  7. 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: 
  1. Which is the Political Party that Muslims have ‘committed their votes or loyalty forever?
  2. 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?
  3. What does he expect from the Muslims? Whom should they vote to, next time?  Where should they get ‘on board’?
Why do I feel offended by this column in particular?  It is simply because, in the guise of a friendly advice, it is actually offending the national feelings of the Muslims on the one hand and subtly making the majority aware of the need to consolidate their own votes to prevent the effect of Muslim vote consolidation, on the other hand.

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!


  1. Thanks Jay, brilliant and illustrative as always. I have some been really touched with the subtle aspersions by C-Bag ;
    First DNA and then TOI, aren't they to be blamed for the being given a platform of incessant attack on the minorities? When the likes of Swamy and C-Bag are well known why are they being allowed to do this.
    I express my utter dismay on what is been said and what has been said in recent times ; One thing is absolutely clear that God forbid if BJP comes to power expect the unexpected, it will be a doom for the minorities.

  2. Read the post very keenly..Respect your views..but I am a great Fan of CB..and somehow find all his columns and write ups just perfect and to the point..Even in this TOI Column of his..I didnt find any biased opinion..He just put forth his views on the atrocities faced by the minorities in it Hindus or Muslims in their respective places of stay..especially when CB says that intially while seeking votes..Politicians claim to be their saviour and ask for their vote in return..unfortunately to realize later that they have been taken for a ride..How true it is !

    CB has just asked Muslims of India to give a chance for change and that they should not be taken for a ride or for granted..I liked that CB also have asked the majorities i.e. the Hindus to be extra cautious to not to hurt the feelings of minorities and vice versa..

    And There were a few Columns before..which made me feel that CB is a pro BJP Person..but then in one of his recent column he clarified that He just wishes for a party to come into power which takes our Country to great heights in matters of Development and progress..

    And then what is wrong in One wanting another Party to head our Government, if he/she feels that the present Govt. is not doing enough ?? matter of personal choice .. isnt it ? And the fact that He is a Celebrity puts a restriction on him and cannot express himself so openly bringing in lots of unwanted that too is a reason for him being not so direct..I guess

    Well written as always..Lots of points worth pondering :)

  3. Jay, absolutely right. You have summarized CBag's big write up correctly. As you said if he canvasses for BJP openly, no one can question him. At the same time, he should not undermine the minority to such a low level that by closing his eyes while keeping his mouth wide open, minorities won't be able to unmask his identity.If he claims that Congress has been fooling minorities, CBaig has tried an attempt here. Bad luck CBag, we are not as foolish as you think.

    Abdulla Madumoole


    What takes more priority ?

    The reduction in Petrol prices or the reduction in Central powers ?
    Your kids nursery rhyme or your own political ideology ?
    Rehabilitation of widows or rehabilitation of mercenaries ?
    Your salary or your leaders pay packets ?
    Condition of roads outside your house or the condition of various roadmaps ?

  5. Even your comments looks like you are a Pro Congress person. If dig vijay singh reads this article, without any hesitation he would have said that the opposition are trying to publish articles against them and this should be investigated and Chetan Bhagat should not comment on this becos he was married (dont ask him what marriage has to to with this article, but dig vijay singh will always speak unnecessary things).

    It was just his views and you tried to fish something from this views and say ur views. And i only find this article more disturbing than Chetan's.

    Isnt it ????

  6. i completely agree with you!!! for me Muslims and Christians and moderate hindus are better off with congress than a BJP which is controlled by sangh, RSS is trying evry trick in the book and every blocks of the corners turned to get back to the power, BJP looks more power hungry than congress to me, If sibal and chidu are adamant then sushma and Jately are not so nice to touch your feet. Chetan has been trying hard yes he has a right but do it, but not to pass judgments on who votes for whom. I would like to know why evrybodys concerned about chidu when yeddy who openly looted is roaming freee????? lets talk about of them both y only Congreesss???

  7. pluralcoexistance@gmail.comSeptember 26, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    Dear Mr. Chetan,

    You have narrated few honest points regarding ping-pong of political issues our all parties are giving national experience.

    But, I wonder, how you your pen with or without intention slipped off 2002 riots of Gujarat, engineered by fascist which destablise the concept of plural co-existance of India.

    Nation is experiencing synnonmously with Congress, BJP and their allies within UPA & NDP.

    Similarly, Fascist Forces linking Nagpur (RSS), needs to be explored in your next pen.

    Plural Co-Existance of India
    With & Without Difference

  8. Chetan Bhagat has got back what he deserved in the analysis by Jay.Ignorance of history of pre-partition India is evident from his writing.We are repeating the charade in post-partition India of what happened prior to independence.It did not prevent partition.Read at least the resolutions of Muslim League prior to partition.The same carried the day and we continue to hear the echo even now.CB will be unaware.Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. But CB is bent upon being a do gooder.Similar do-gooders have failed in the past miserably.And CB has also got the ultimate slur of being a a BJP propagandist. CB keep your writing to yourself.

  9. i read the article and i could not find the biased nature you have mentioned. i must thank you for taking extra time and effort to sound so negative. thanks for being one among many who wants to divide the society.

  10. Plz dont Devide this great country.
    Plz work for strengthening and making this world's super power.
    Plz analyze why Muslims feel so insecure and unsafe.
    Why u people hv been opposing passing of communal violence Bill...
    Plz plz do not devide the country.

  11. Why do people take CB seriously?
    If it wasn't for social media this particular writer wouldn't have survived for so long in the field of literature with the mediocre stuff that he writes. And it doesn't even require an above average IQ to see the lopsidedness in his writeups. I don't mind a writer's personal inclinations looming large on his features. But let that not be in the guise of friendly advice. He's also making use of a vacuum that was created as a result of the absence of young writers in the field of Indian writing in English. His books make for light reading. They don't provide you with food for thought. Then why so many expectations from him? The day the youth of this country starts digging the canons of Indian writing in English, self-proclaimed authors like CB will die a slow death. So don't waste your time and energy on him. He doesn't deserve it. If it's good, friendly, unbiased advice you are aiming at read Ramachandra Guha, Shiv Vishwanathan, Swaminathan Aiyar, Bachi Karkaria, Jug Suraiya, etc. In that order. They are not young but their advice comes out of years of research and a couple of them have authored real gems in history and literature. But if you insist on getting advice from the young only there are several bloggers who are offering it for free.

    Cheers! Stay confused. It is good.