‘Parties fear if Muslims get tickets, they’ll lose the majority community’s votes’
At the release of his second book, ‘Absent in Politics and Power, Political Exclusion of Indian Muslims,’ former IPS officer Abdur Rahman, who resigned a day before the CAA was passed, talks to Jyoti Punwani about why political representation is important for a community
MUMBAI: He was among those rare police officers to author a book while in service. ‘Denial and Deprivation: Indian Muslims after the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Commission Reports’ was his first book written while he was an IGP in Maharashtra. At the release of his second book, ‘Absent in Politics and Power, Political Exclusion of Indian Muslims,’ former IPS officer Abdur Rahman, who resigned a day before the CAA was passed, talks to Jyoti Punwani about why political representation is important for a community.
Why did you feel the need to write this book?
Since Independence, Muslims have been marginalized educationally and socio-economically, and subjected to violence. This has worsened after 2014; now they are also being lynched. They don’t have a proper share in politics. Their voice is not heard – in the State or Centre. Hence, the book.
What’s the cause of this?
Several factors have contributed to this – political parties, the EC and the community itself. Parties don’t give them a proportionate share of tickets, the EC indulges in adverse gerrymandering of Muslim-dominated constituencies, and Muslims are obsessed only with community issues like Urdu, madarsas and Wakf Board, instead of getting involved in secular causes.
Can you give an example of gerrymandering of constituencies?
Take Akola. It’s a Muslim dominated city. A Muslim candidate can easily win the Assembly election from there. But it’s been divided in such a way that Muslims have become a minority.
This is deliberate?
Yes. I have explained in the book the communal mindset of Delimitation Commissions since Independence.
What’s been the record of secular parties?
Muslims form 14.2% of the population. But the Congress has given on an average, only 6.5% representation to Muslims. The Left parties too haven’t given enough.
These parties fear if Muslims are given tickets, they’ll lose the majority community’s vote, which is a mere perception. Laloo Prasad Yadav is the only leader who gave Muslims their due. He didn’t lose. There was a time when Muslims represented Hindu majority areas – such as Banaskantha and Ramnathapuram.
The intelligentsia is also to blame. They discuss minutely issues such as election funding, EVMs and criminalisation of politics. But they don’t see democracy as inclusive, where marginalized communities get fair representation. Democracy itself means proportional representation of all segments. Otherwise, it becomes the rule of representatives of just one section.
Indian democracy is the rule of the rich, the elite and the “upper caste” Hindus, who have cornered benefits at the cost of others. Here, I would include rich, elite and “upper caste” Muslims, who constitute just 2% of the population. Muslims make up 4.7 % of Parliament, of which 4% are “upper caste”. Pasmanda Muslims, who constitute 11%, get the rest.
Will the Pasmandas go with the BJP, which is wooing them?
The BJP’s love for Pasmandas is superficial. They want to snatch the rights of Hindu OBCs, what will they do for Muslims!
Are Muslim parties the answer?
The three Muslim parties today are all regional. They are doing tremendous work for Muslims in their states -- in secular fields, not just religious.
But I’m not a fan of only Muslim leadership or Muslim parties. Constituencies where Muslims make up more than 35% of the population, should be represented by Muslims, whichever their party.
Parties who do this will be attacked by the BJP.
The BJP is going to attack you even if you defend innocent Muslims falsely charged, or give scholarships to Muslims. Instead of fearing such attacks, secular parties should attack the BJP and tell them they are wrong.
Do you regret resigning from the police service? You were a role model for Muslim youth. You could have served your community better maybe?
Serving the community is different. When communal politics is prevailing, it’s better to raise issues concerning the community. I couldn’t have continued in service at such a time.