Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Is Muslim League a dead horse?

By John Cheeran

There is little in common between Jawaharlal Nehru and Ramesh Chennithala. The former is India’s most celebrated statesman-prime minister, the latter a khadi-clad Peter Pan in Kerala.

Last week Chennithala, president, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, tried to emulate Nehru when he said the rump of Muslim League in Kerala (what is variously described as Indian Union Muslim League Kerala committee, Muslim League, etc) has become a liability for Congress.

It was Nehru who dismissed Muslim League as a dead horse in the post-independence euphoria in 1957. (It is another matter that, two years later, he keeled over and the state unit of Congress struck an alliance with the League in Kerala). Now the dead horse is galloping faster than Congress in Kerala, threatening almost to wreck the United Democratic Front (UDF) coalition.

Will the high command in New Delhi agree about what Nehru said in 1957?

Why do Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi flog the dead horse? The Gandhis can hardly displease the rump of Muslim League in Kerala, for the Oommen Chandy-led UDF ministry leads a precarious existence even with the support of the League. So they will acquiesce, and League will continue to press their arguments.

It is important to realise who flogged Nehru’s dead horse into life.

With a 25% Muslim population in the state, both the UDF and CPM-led LDF are wary of alienating Muslim voters. But one cannot understand the need for a Muslim League, in Kerala’s cultural and social context, in electoral arena. Both Congress and CPM are quite accommodative of Muslim aspirations, so why strike a divisive note on the basis of religion? The answer should come from the Muslim community. League, however, has realized that only thing that matters in a first-past-post democracy is numbers in a given geographical area.

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