IOS holds Panel Discussion on “Bihar Elections 2015: Impact on Social Fabric”

November 28, 2015 at 162, Jogabai, Institute Building, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi

A panel discussion on “Bihar Elections 2015: Impact on Social Fabric” was organised by the Institute of Objective Studies at its conference hall on November 28, 2015. Initiating the discussion, senior journalist AU Asif said that the mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) romped home following rejection of the issues by the electorate raised by the BJP. Referring to the well-known journalist, Rajdeep Sardesai’s book on the parliamentary elections of 2014, he said that Rajdeep had predicted that the outcome of the elections would prove a trend-setter for India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement during the current winter session of Parliament reaffirming his commitment to the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution was the first of its kind in the history of the country. Terming the unity among the political parties in Bihar as significant, he held that it should not be confined to winning elections. It should be a beginning for setting high standards of tolerance and promoting a composite culture, thus saving the Constitution from onslaughts. He felt the need for advance planning on this count.

Secretary General of the IOS, Prof. ZM Khan, noted that besides being inspiring and re-assuring, the Bihar election results had thrown a challenge before us. Elections could not be won by slogans only; they required thorough study and analysis as science, technique and art were involved in them. He pointed out that it was not Muslims alone only who were a deprived lot, but also several other sections in the country whom we could take along to increase our strength. There were about one hundred parliamentary seats in the country where Muslims had a decisive role. But this needed a well thought-out strategy and meticulous planning. Pointing an accusing finger at our approach to the marginalised sections, he said we talked fine, but when it came to acting, we behaved differently. He called for sparing a thought for it as our Constitution also forbade discrimination on the basis of caste and creed.

Professor of Law at the Jamia Millia Islamia, Prof. Eqbal Husain, observed that Bihar elections could be divided into three parts. Elaborating on his opinion, he said that from an analytical angle, the situation obtaining before the elections must be studied followed by the one that persisted during the electioneering. He held that the post-election scenario too must be taken into account while analysing election results. He observed that all attempts at tearing apart the social fabric in Bihar were thwarted by the people with their foresight. Besides, partners of the grand alliance felt the need for similar experiments in the whole country. He opined that the BJP had failed to learn a lesson from the loss it suffered in the Delhi assembly elections.

Advocate-on-record in the Supreme Court, Mushtaq Ahmad, described the year 2015 as important for several things had happened during the period that saved the Constitution from subversion. He said that the killing of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri and the return of awards by artists, litterateurs, scientists and intellectuals on the issue of intolerance put the government on the back foot and forced it to revise its stand. Hailing the Supreme Court’s ruling that preserved the Constitution forever, he noted that the BJP government at the Centre could not succeed in its bid to bring in pliant judges who could interpret the Constitution as per the government’s wishes.

Besides, BJP’s humiliating defeat in Bihar assembly elections was a big event in the country. The third important incident that marked the year was the Union Home Minister Rajnath’s statement on secularism in Parliament. The issue of secularism had already been decided by the Supreme Court in the famous Bommai case. He pleaded that these incidents kept our social fabric intact. Professor of Law at the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Prof. M. Afzal Wani held that we must carry a good image of ourselves so as to convince others how aware we were. Professor of Geography at the JMI, Hasina Hashiya opined the long queues of women voters in Bihar showed that they were aware, adding that this was not confined to politics but was related to other fields as well. She emphasised that we should promote politics based on issues. Abdul Haq Falahi voiced concern over caste factor and increasing number of legislators with criminal background. He wanted to know if law makers with dubious characters would play any positive role in the days to come. Welcoming the Bihar government’s decision of enforcing prohibition in the state from April next, he hoped that the new government would be well disposed towards Muslims.

In his presidential remarks, the Chairman of the IOS, Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, said that in the wake of Bihar elections, only the language of the BJP and its affiliates had changed, the venom remained undiluted. The venom would have come out in the open and the diction would have changed had the outcome of the elections been different, he stated. Thus what was important was not the celebration of victory but the need to analyse its impact on our social fabric. In order to work at the grassroots level, it was necessary to reach at the panchayat level. He said that we must impress upon the government to fulfill the promises made to the people in the manifesto. In this connection, he informed that a “committee on manifesto” would be formed to review the progress of the implementation of the manifesto of the grand alliance of the Janta Dal (U), Rashtriya Janta Dal and the Congress Party. Similarly, he added, a debate on the issues that required intellectuals’ participation, would be organised at Patna and other important towns, and their outcome would be forwarded to the government for necessary action. A study of the issues confronting the minorities, especially Muslims in the poll-bound states of West Bengal and Assam, would be conducted in order to prepare a concrete plan of action for addressing them, he concluded.

While the discussion formally began with the recitation of a verse from the holy Quran, Dr. Nakhat Husain Nadwi conducted the proceedings. A number of scholars, university teachers, researchers, social activists, journalists and political analysts and prominent citizens, including Md. Rashid Husain, Mazharul Haq Ansari, Rashid Kamal Falahi, Sajjad Imam, advocate, Md. Sanaullah, Haseeb Ahmed, Prof. Javed Farooqi, Niyaz Ahmad, Safi Akhtar and Mirza Zaki Ahmad participated.


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