December 21, 2000


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Sajid Bhombal

Everything, but a solution!

E-Mail this report to a friend One more December 6, one more tamasha over Babri masjid/Ram mandir issue, with no solution at sight.

This time the tamasha started with the prime minister's statement. Ironically, it came during an Iftar party! Well, to start with, let us ban all Iftar parties.

There are two good reasons for this. The first one is 'secular'.

It is no business of political parties to engage themselves in religious ceremonies.

The second one is religious. I am not going here in details of essence of Ramzan, but it is enough to say that 'partying' goes against the essence of Ramzan.

Coming back to the topic, at the end of the tamasha , our lawmakers, to use Saisuresh Siwaswamy's words, 'those who control destinies of men and nation' have left the whole issue hanging in the air, to be sorted out by the disputants. That they do expect to, and probably will, laugh all the way to their respective vote banks is a different matter'.

But who are the 'disputants' here? Indian Hindus and Indian Muslims. Together they constitute 97 pc of the nation's population. That is to say, the entire nation is 'disputant'. But to who is the resolution of the problem left to? Hindu leaders and Muslim leaders?

Can so-called Hindu leaders and Muslim leaders solve this problem for us, ordinary Hindus and Muslims? If they can, they need a platform for it. And who is going to give them the platform, since the lawmakers, after the ritual, have gone back to their business.

Till the next December 6, they will be busy in their respective 'businesses'; they neither have the time nor the inclination to create a platform from which a solution could be worked out.

Even otherwise, a solution can be worked out only if we have a competent Muslim or Hindu leadership in our country. The present leadership is hopelessly incompetent.

It is often said that Muslims do not rise above their leadership, and that they have handed over their reins to the wrong hands. Point taken.

But, to be only fair, by the same yardstick Hindus have not done anything different. By allowing ek dhakka aur do-type of leaders to hijack the Ram mandir issue, Hindus haven't really helped the cause either.

But can there be a tangible Muslim leadership in India? Or for that matter, can there be a tangible Hindu leadership in India?

Let me take up the Muslim leadership here.

The general perception is that the Hindu leadership is secular, while the Muslim leadership is communal.

When we talk of Muslim leadership, what exactly do we mean? On what basis is the so-called Muslim leadership termed as such? Leadership needs a mandate, but do these leaders have a mandate? Leadership also needs to be accountable. Are these leaders accountable? To whom?

Who can be termed as a Muslim leader? The Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Delhi? But on what basis? Syed Shahabuddin? Again, on what basis?

They are mere self-proclaimed leaders. To say that they represent all Muslims is to say that Bal Thackeray or Ashok Singhal represents all Hindus.

The truth is, the present Muslim leadership is a fallacy, it does not have any mandate. There is simply no mechanism to have an exclusive Muslim leadership. Whether it is needed or not is a different issue, I am merely stating the fact that there is no mechanism by which an exclusive Muslim leadership could emerge in India.

As things stand, if five-odd Muslims gather in Delhi tomorrow and call a press conference, over delicious kababs and falooda, make some statement on Babri masjid, we can safely assume that a new Muslim leadership will have been formed through the front pages of our national newspapers.

Can we then say those Muslims duly elected by the people are the true representatives of Indian Muslims? Who does it mean -- people like Ghulam Nabi Azad (a Kashmiri who is a Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra), who recently argued that 'the Congress government of P V Narasimha Rao was as blameless as a bird of heaven when Babri masjid was demolished'?

Or, Shahnawaz Hussain, whose speech in Parliament recently -- in spite of the ovation he got from the treasury benches -- must be among the most hilarious ones ever. He may not have said anything wrong, but even a child could make out that it was not his speech he was reading out there.

Both kinds of leaders, those who do not have a mandate and those with a mandate but not an exclusive one to represent Muslims, have proved themselves to be ineffective while representing the second largest community in India.

If this is true of Muslim leadership, it is equally true of the Hindu leadership as well. Given that, how can we leave a matter as serious as Ayodhya in the hands of these ineffective, self-proclaimed community leaders?

But we have to look beyond what is available, to get us on the road to an amicable solution. Some leadership should come up and offer us different options to choose from.

For example, it is said that Muslims should hand over the Babri Masjid site as a gesture of goodwill, and that Hindus will not rake up the issue of any other disputed site.

Let us assume that Muslims want to accept this deal. What can I, a Muslim, do? To who, and more importantly, how will I articulate that okay, it is a deal, we accept? To Imam Bukhari? To Ashok Singhal? To Ghulam Nabi Azad? You can see the dilemma here.

Or take another example, a more practical and effective one. Say, people like Dr Rafiq Zakria and M V Kamath and other Hindu and Muslim intellectuals want to look at different options and solutions and help their communities solve this problem.

Now, how will these intellectuals help to solve the problem, for which they need a platform? Who will provide that platform?

In both of the above examples, what is needed is political will from those who control the destinies of men and nation.

An ordinary Indian, Hindu or Muslim, expects that an amicable solution be offered to him and that he has the means and mechanism to either approve or disapprove the solution offered. The intellectuals who could offer priceless help in this matter need a platform to put forward their suggestions.

Ordinary Indians are not expected to be accurate in their knowledge of history. The historic aspect to the Ram mandir/Babri masjid needs to be placed before the nation by a just and fair authority, which must be accountable to the Constitution and the people of the country.

Historic aspects propagated by the Hindutva brigade will not be easily accepted by Muslims. They don't trust them, and with a reason. Or, for that matter, will the vice-versa be accepted by Hindus.

Our political leadership, our lawmakers, should come forward and work on a solution, and then offer that solution to the nation for its approval.

We need political parties to go to the public with, 'Look we have this problem, which is explosive in nature, as we have seen in 1992. We need to solve this problem. These are the facts. This is the historic evidence. These are the opinions of intellectuals. This is what we think could be the solution'.

Blaming the Muslim or Hindu leadership is like shooting arrows in the air. It is not the Muslim or Hindu leadership which has failed. They are quite successful in holding the nation to ransom. What has failed is our secular leadership.

It has failed in offering a just and fair solution to this problem. It has failed to displayed the necessary political will to solve the problem. And the sooner we realise this, the closer will we be to a solution.

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