Shahjahan Sheikh is not a person but a trend who enjoys special kind of secular protection.

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Sandeshkhali, a village situated on the banks of Kalindi river in North 24-Parganas district of West Bengal, has been in the news for the last several days. The women here have made several serious allegations of alleged torture and sexual harassment against Trinamool Congress leader Shahjahan Sheikh and his two associates. The things that the victims of Sandeshkhali have told are unimaginable in the 21st century. In such a situation, the important question is that how does a Shahjahan Sheikh become so autocratic? Where do tyrants like Shahjahan get their strength from? The answer to these questions is hidden in the statement of BJP spokesperson and MP Sudhanshu Trivedi. According to Sudhanshu, “Whatever is happening in Sandeshkhali is not just an incident but a political thinking, which is becoming a canker for Bengal from Noakhali 78 years ago to today’s Sandeshkhali. Shahjahan Sheikh is not an individual but a trend which enjoys a special kind of secular patronage not only in Bengal but in the whole of India.

If we turn the pages of political history, it would not be an exaggeration to call the Congress Party the mother of Muslim appeasement. After independence, from Nehru till present, the party has been dedicated to the politics of appeasement. After independence, not only domestic but also foreign policy was decided by appeasement. The biggest irony was that instead of improving, the financial condition of those Muslims in whose name Congress started the policy of appeasement in the country kept worsening. The second irony was that Congress appeasement spread to regional parties, media and intellectuals.

The Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal came to power on the basis of Muslim appeasement. Since coming to power, the Trinamool government has completely ignored Hindus and other communities in order to appease Muslims. The government even created obstacles in the religious festivals and travels of Hindus. The plight of Hindus in West Bengal is not hidden from anyone. It is surprising to hear the kind of atrocities that Trinamool leaders and workers are committing, considering that we live in a democratic system and there is a democratically elected government in West Bengal. Be it West Bengal or Delhi, there is competition among them regarding Muslim appeasement. The role of Aam Aadmi Party leaders in the Delhi riots is well known. Even behind the Shaheen Bagh protest in Delhi, Muslim appeasement political forces could not hide their faces even if they wanted to. When there was BRS government in Telangana and Congress government in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, Muslim appeasement was the political policy there. When Rashtriya Janata Dal was a partner in the government in Bihar, Muslim appeasement was at its peak there too.

The seed of Muslim appeasement policy that was sown in the country after independence, later became a banyan tree. India became the only country in the world where minorities were given priority at the cost of the interests of the majority. The first example of Congress appeasement was seen immediately after independence when the country’s first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad took the initiative to build a grand Somnath temple to erase the first stigma of slavery. But due to Muslim bias, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru not only distanced himself from the work of renovation and restoration of the Somnath temple but also ordered the then Chief Minister of Saurashtra that not a single penny of the government should be spent in the construction of the temple. Not only this, when President Dr. Rajendra Prasad was about to inaugurate the rebuilt Somnath Temple, Nehru also tried unsuccessfully to stop him.

Some political parties, partyless politicians and intellectuals are trying their best to make the compulsion of vote bank politics a permanent feature of the country. Naturally, all the secular people are being systematically asked to think, live and form their mindset in the context of sect and religion, if this is not thought and done then the country will be burnt to ashes in the fire of communalism. If we say it briefly and in a few sentences, then the religious (sect) secularism of today’s India is synonymous with Muslim relativism. Both are slaves of each other. The basis of both is power politics. It is assumed that not being a Muslim relative means being against secularism. That if Muslims are not the center point of our thinking then we are moving towards breaking the Indian nation. If we do not experience the love and affection that comes from the milky smile of an innocent child, then we are not only Muslims but also anti-India. And that if we are not anti-Hindu in our ethics then we are not secular. Therefore, if we want to remain secular then we should not talk about the suffering, torture and misery of the Hindus who were driven away from the Kashmir Valley. Keep your mouth shut on Kanhaiya Lal’s murder and Sandeshkhali. That is, ignore the atrocities on Hindus in which governments and political parties are involved.

This appeasement policy of Congress had an impact on other political parties as well and they started avoiding speaking in the interest of Hindus due to the fear of alienating the Muslim vote bank. Leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav, Mamta Banerjee, N Chandrababu Naidu, Arvind Kejriwal, Chandrashekhar Rao have not become Muslim in a day. All these are the fruits of the banyan tree of Congress appeasement. In fact, due to Congress’s neglect of regional identities and dictatorship, regional parties adopted the Congress formula of appeasement instead of empowerment of Muslims to get Muslim votes. The result of this was that on one hand the backwardness of Muslims increased and on the other hand fundamentalism got fertile ground. The politics of ‘appeasement’ mainly benefited the ‘creamy layer’ among Muslims. This exposes the hollowness of so-called secular politics.

The history of Congress itself is a witness to the fact that it has done its entire politics on the basis of appeasement and even among the minorities, it has focused its attention the most on Muslim votes, because Muslim votes prove to be decisive in many parts of the country. Senior Congress leader, former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had said that Muslims have the first right on the country’s resources. According to a report by Urdu newspaper Inquilab in 2018, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had reportedly described his party as a party of Muslims among Muslim intellectuals. The main reason for the victory of Congress in Karnataka elections and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal was the bulk of votes from Muslims. Last year, Congress was successful in gaining power in Telangana due to Muslim votes.

Political parties have been resorting to appeasement for vote bank. Political parties have divided religions and sects according to their agenda and they go to any extent to appease them. The truth is that appeasement is harmful for the development, harmony, brotherhood, security and peace of the country. Opportunistic, selfish and wrong natured people, under the guise of appeasement, commit injustice, malpractice, misconduct and brutality which Shahjahan Shaikh and his henchmen did in Sandeshkhali. In true sense, whatever happened in Sandeshkhali is the result of political appeasement. Political parties should desist from appeasement politics, this is for everyone’s benefit.

– Dr. Ashish Vashishtha

(The author is a senior freelance journalist)

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