A politician thinks of the next election, a statesman worries about the next generation, we have learnt in history. During this protracted and highly charged election season in Bihar, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, must rise to the level of a statesman and send the message of communal harmony to the Seemanchal area that votes in the fifth and final phase of polling on November 5. That will be a message to the world too.
Northeastern part of Bihar, Seemanchal comprises of Araria, Katihar, Kishanganj and Purnea districts that have Muslim population anywhere from 37 to 67 percent. The BJP did organize a Hunkar rally in Purnia which had an impressive attendance and a militant Hindu overtone. It was also in the beginning of the campaign. Since then, much water has streamed down the electioneering rivers. A renewed message of Hindu-Muslim unity and development among the Muslim communities will help the NDA.
Reports coming in are suggesting that hordes of RSS volunteers have descended in the Seemanchal area and they are doing door-to-door campaign for the BJP mainly in the Hindu neighborhoods inciting them along communal lines. Many of these reports may be sensational or at least exaggerated, but since the (bursting of crackers in Pakistan) statement by Amit Shah, and before that, the beef controversy have unnecessarily enhanced suspicion or possibly poisoned the minds of Muslim minorities. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, can apply correctional balm and win some support for his party as well. Nationally, five percent Muslims had voted for him in 2014, he can improve on that.
Many hard-line Hindu fanatic fringe in the party might say they did not care; but, the PM is the leader of all. He must be a re-assuring figure. This is important for the future too.
As is well-known, a vast number of Muslims from Seemanchal and surrounding areas go outside Bihar to work. They also go to the Gulf countries. There they see wretched working conditions, experience ill-treatment and are addressed as Hindi-Muslims by their Arab counterparts. So, as Diaspora, they develop a strong feeling of attachment to their motherland, Bihar, and put a lot of money not only in the economy of the state but also toward philanthropic-constructive activities. And yes, they also say: Bharat Mata Ki Jai.
Well aware of the Shia-Sunni politics in the Islamic world, the tragic state of conflict in Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan or Pakistan, overseas Indian Muslims look upon Narendra Modi as a strong Prime Minister who will be in a better position to come to their help in the time of crisis. The human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, or war in Iraq have affected them in the past and they could be the victims any time.
With the help of Muslim scholar-politicians like M. J. Akbar and others, the Prime Minister must make the last pitch to reach out to the Muslim voters of Bihar. If not by rally, then through many digital means. The country needs unifiers and not dividers.
Dr. Binoy Shanker Prasad hails from Darbhanga and currently resides with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). He has authored conference papers, articles and chapters on Bihar in previously published books in the United States, India and Canada.
Dr. Prasad administers a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OverseasBihari and has sponsored “Aware Citizenship Campaign” at a micro-level in his home-town.