Indian Muslims face a huge dilemma in the current political environment in the country. They are the second largest community within the country, the second largest Muslim population in the world. Yet, they seem to have lost on every front, including the right to have any voice or say in the functioning of the great democratic nation, they belong to.
They have been sidelined by manipulative political groups who found an opportunity to exploit sentiments of the majority community. The Hindu nationalists propagated the idea of taking revenge of one thousand years of Muslim rule in India and partition of the nation on religious grounds in 1947.
The strategists of far-right Hindu nationalist first got hold of Hindu political party BJP, sidelining moderate elements within the BJP. Then they worked on election strategies where they can win elections without any support from Muslims.
Huge electoral victory has given them increased confidence and they have no hesitation in implementing their communal agenda.
Muslim leadership and intelligentsia are only busy in their criticism of the Hindutava forces.
At times, they are forced to engage in defending their patriotic credentials. At other times, they seek refuge under opposition parties who have become too weak to do good even if they desire to do so.
Protesting against atrocities is important. Thanks to India’s democratic credentials, there are ideological groups and media personalities who stand for secular and democratic principles and openly criticise the wrongs being perpetrated by the extremist forces.
Muslims feel demoralised. Ordinary Muslims have been pushed to limits. A new way of incidents, which included lynching of Muslim men by cow vigilantes, forcing Muslims to chant Hindu slogans and killing of Muslim boys if they fell in love with a Hindu girl, shocked the right-minded people in the country.
So far, Muslims have not engaged with the BJP government. It is almost certain that BJP is going to stay in government for the coming years. Disassociating from the party in power is not an option. How should Muslim engage with the right-wing Hindu nationalist party in power, needs to be discussed.
A collective Muslim leadership, made of leading intellectuals and socially active individuals who understand the dynamics of the community, the country and current political challenges should come together and seek regular meetings with BJP leadership.