As another general election approaches, the politics of Muslim disenchantment is playing out fascinatingly.
In Delhi, a coalition of Muslim organisations called the Coordination Committee of Indian Muslims (CCIM), formed to protest the Batla House shootout on September 19, is now scrambling for political space, trying to attract Muslim support from across the country and become a hub around which parties opposed to both the BJP and the Congress can coalesce.
The coalition includes the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, an avowedly 'Islamist' outfit, whose objective, at least theoretically, has been the creation of a Dar ul Islam or just Islamic state. How can it come together with mainstream parties, including the CPI and the CPM? In earlier times, its extreme ideology had kept it away from even the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, a more centrist Muslim organisation.
Now there are whispers within the Jamaat that it should draw inspirations from its Bangladeshi counterpart, which amended its constitution to enter electoral politics.
“I am not sure if the Jamaat can offer a credible political option for Muslims. But its activist attitude seems to be in a positive direction in promoting its image,” says Arshi Khan, reader, political science, Aligarh Muslim University.
And how come mainstream parties are responding to the Jamaat-e-Islami's overtures? “If the Jamaat is changing its ideas and working towards constitutional compliance in view of newer realities, we must recognise that change,” said Atul Kumar Anjaan, CPI national secretary.
Unlike Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, its counterpart in India has been less intertwined with harsh fundamentalist forces like the Taliban. “It may not be nationalist in cultural terms, but it is not anti-national,” said Khan.
By harping on Muslim disillusionment, the Jamaat has so far been able to paper over its differences with other organisations, including other Muslim ones.
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