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January 20, 1998


'We need a secular dictator for a few years'

Shihan Hussaini, 40, karate instructor, Madras

Shihan Hussaini I would feel very safe if the BJP came to power in spite of the fact that they were the people who committed the most heinous crime in recent times. Yes, I mean the Babri Masjid demolition. But the Congress was in power when the Babri Masjid was demolished. They are equally or more responsible. What did they do? Nothing; they were just mute spectators to the whole drama. So, to me, it is a choice between the deep sea and the devil.

Honestly, I will not feel safe if either of them are in power. As of today it appears the BJP has got group majority while the Congress is a fragmented party in spite of the fact that Sonia Gandhi is campaigning for them. We Muslims have a feeling that if the BJP came to power, they may act in a responsible way. the whole world would be looking at them.

They were in power for 13 days and they knew very well that they would not be able to continue in office. They had the chance to at least construct a foundation for the Ram temple at Ayodhya. But they did not do it. So, I feel they are a better devil.

Muslims in India feel one hundred per cent alienated. Even though I was called a tulukan when I was in school, it did not bother me much. The Babri Masjid demolition was the turning point, that was when I started feeling alienated. Why is it that there are so many bomb blasts these days? Why are there so many Muslim fundamentalists coming up? Because, the Muslims feel threatened now. The solution is, a radical government has to come and ease the sense of helplessness and hopelessness prevailing among many Muslims.

Unless you remove religion from the government application forms, there is no hope. There is no hope for the present generation, but there is hope for the future generation. But something drastic, something positive has to be done in a positive way, very soon. I do not have a ration card. My name is not there in the voter's list. Why? Because I refused to divulge my religion. Is it not a shame? I am a Muslim in my own country. India is not a foreign country to me. Pakistan is a foreign country to me. How do I feel if I do not have an identity in my own country? The government has every duty to reply to my question. I am burning inside and there are so many like me in the country. Would any government do anything constructive?

I don't think there will be any dramatic change in the political scenario. Sonia Gandhi is campaigning for a party which is known for their devils. I don't think she will make any difference. She is non-committal about everything.

I cannot understand the criticism against her. Tell me, what is wrong in Sonia campaigning for the Congress? What is wrong in Sonia becoming our prime minister? Take for example, the United States. So many people from other countries have gone and settled down there as Americans. They call themselves Americans and they are treated as Americans too. Sonia has become an Indian citizen, so she has every right to try to be the prime minister of India. It is better for the secularist nature of our country that she became the PM.

Shihan Hussaini I frankly feel that we need a dictator, a secular dictator for a few years and that person would be courageous enough to remove all these -isms. I would say, Sonia Gandhi can be our dictator. Nobody knows her mind and above all she is an Italian. But she is not going to win. Everybody says she came to Sriperumbudur to campaign for the party. How many in Madras came to know about it? Only if people see her or hear her talk, can she win seats for the party. I must say, her visibility is very low.

I also see Seshan as an another dictator who would do something positive. I see only these two contenders as good dictators. In future, I also look upon myself as one! You never know. I am building a mass base of young kids right now.

I would definitely have voted if my name was there in the list. But I would have gone by the credentials of the candidate alone. What do I expect after the election? More and more confusion, and nothing else. Still I see Sonia playing a major role in the future. She may keep Kesri as a dancing doll. If Sonia came to power, I think I would feel comfortable. I would definitely vote for the BJP if it is going to be Kesri and Co.

No, I am not for dynastic rule. But regard for monarchy is there in our minds, whether you like it or not. People will look at Priyanka and Rahul as individuals with great ancestors. I would prefer a sculptor coming from a family of sculptors rather than a person learning new. I would prefer a weaver from a weaver's family. I would prefer a writer from a writer's family. That is how the Indian psyche functions. Though I am not for dynastic rule, I prefer a known devil to an unknown devil.

As told to Shobha Warrier

'Why do I feel isolated in my own country?'
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