Are all of us social conservatives? Can democracy be defended by alliances with communalists?

Organisers of protests against the governments CA Bill and NRC are to be commended for their courage and persistence. But while they have every right to make their choices, I must caution them as to the benefit of allying with communal organisations such as the Jamaat-i-Islami. We cannot defend democracy by allying with anti-democratic political groups, or communalists of any stripe. This has been an old problem with the Indian Left, and nothing good will result. People should study the political philosophy of the Jamaat (and of course, the Jamaat has every right to protest on its own and in alliance with anyone it chooses). 

But for those who value democracy and the principles of a secular state, I must say that it is high time they learned to defend democracy on their own, not by making such alliances. In the past too, Indian progressives and communists made alliances with the BJP/RSS - for example during the JP movement of 1974; and in their so-called 'seat-adjustment' for an anti-Congress alliance in the 1989 elections that brought VP Singh to power. The failure of Maoists to confront communalism is part of the same story, about which more can be said. 

This continually patronising attitude leads to the widespread impression that India's religious minorities are habitually conservative. An even worse result is that though well-meaning citizens come together in a crisis, after it is over the victims of violence and/or police harrassment are left to fend for themselves. They are obliged to rely on the committed cadre of conservative organisations. The problem then intensifies because of communal polarisation. 

Today some activists are again acting on the presumption that all Indian Muslims are Jamaatis /Tablighis. This is a foolish and dangerous assumption. All Hindus are not sympathisers of Hindutva; all Sikhs are not proponents of Khalistan. 

Please open your eyes and stand on your own feet.

The real tukde-tukde gang
Readers interested in examining this issue may please read these articles carefully. It is very serious, because the failure to address communalism (arguably our outstanding political problem for over a century) is at the root of the present crisis:

Bangladesh post-poll violence hits minorities/Syed Badrul Ahsan NB: The Jamaat-i-Islami Hind is the sister organisation of the Bangladesh Jamaat. In March 2013, a mass demon-stration by an Islamist coalition demonstrated in Kolkata against the convictions of war criminals in Bangladesh. Supporters of the Shahbag movement in Bangladesh were threatened, & calls made to prevent Sheikh Hasina from visiting Kolkata. In light of the systematic & relentless violent attacks on Hindus & Buddhists in Bangladesh, & the strange logic by which the Bangladeshi Jamaat blames non-Muslims for each & every political setback, it is time for the Jamaat-i-Islami Hind to make clear its position on the vicious deeds of Bangladeshi Islamists & distance itself from them

Extracts from B. R. Ambedkar’s book on Pakistan (1940, 1945)

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