Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, who first rose to prominence on the wings of Khilafat (he falsely accused Jinnah of betraying the cause), became the Private Secretary of first Motilal and then Jawaharlal Nehru in the Twenties. But he was no sycophant or loyal family retainer. His position in the U.P politics owed everything to his own skills and his band of devoted 'Rafians'. But for his loyalty to Nehru and his own love of intrigue at the Center, Kidwai could have emerged as the driving force of the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party and become the Political Godfather of Charan Singh and, later on, Mulayam Singh and so forth. Imagine an India where the popularly elected C.M of U.P in the Fifties and Sixties is a Muslim- a patriotic Muslim, who avenged Shayama Prasad Mukherjee by getting Sheikh Abdullah arrested thus rendering Kashmir's special status a dead letter- who is indifferent to the Byzantine goings on at the Center. Lower castes and weaker sections trust him because, as a Muslim, his own community is vulnerable. Yet, equally, because of the Aristocratic ethos of that erstwhile ruling class, the Muslim C.M has the social and diplomatic skills to flatter and win over the High Castes.
Suppose strong Muslim Regional C.Ms had emerged after Independence- this would only have happened if the Siren Song of Intrigue at the Center had been resisted- then, the Indian Muslim would never have gone through a period of doubt and insecurity. Why? Strong Regional leaders, who deal with bread and butter issues and who remain indifferent to the attractions of Palace intrigue, are the only people who can deliver Security with Development to Vulnerable sections and Minorities. Having a Muslim President or Chief Justice doesn't cut it. What could Zail Singh do for the Sikhs of Delhi in 1984?
Previously, some analysts suggested that Muslims needed to find a protector from the majority community. But, what could Akhilesh do for the poor Muslims of Muzaffarnagar? In any case, if a Dalit woman, like Mayawati, can take power and do a fairly good job of providing security, then the question arises, why not a Muslim C.M taking support from Dalits? Why should the Muslim be the subaltern in a KHAM type caste equation? Come to that, why can't there be Muslim leadership for AJGAR castes? There is a saying 'Ayaz should remember his origin' but when were the Indian Muslims conquered by some Hindu version of Mahmud of Ghazni? Look back at the story of Rafi Ahmed Kidwai. Was he really just a 'chamcha' of Nehru? Ignorant people might think so. The Muslim political class of U.P is scarcely ignorant.
What about this Modi wave? It seems to have united Hindus and rendered the caste-equations of the vaunted protectors of Muslims a fantasy. Does this mean Muslims now must be the humble Ayaz of the new Mahmud who comes from Somnath? Anyone who suggests this is a traitor to India. History shows that if a community bends its neck then its doom is sealed. Furthermore, the real meaning of the Modi wave is that India expects every person coming into the political arena to do so with a will to win, a determination to excel, and the drive and ambition to wish for elevation from M.LA to Minister to C.M to Central Cabinet to the Prime Minister's chair.
We don't want a guy on our Cricket Team just because he is a nice guy or friends with the Captain. We want a guy who says 'I want to be Captain in a couple of years time. I want to beat Australia.'
Modi says 'I'm the first Prime Minister to be born after Independence'. Muslim leaders must recognize that they were born as citizens of independent India. They have to compete on the basis of ability and charisma and that spirit of competition must be unbridled. 'Chai-wallah to P.M' is a message of reassurance to vulnerable sections of Society. In future, let every Muslim entering the Political arena declare that he or she has his sights set on nothing less than the Prime Ministership. Unless Muslims can internalize and articulate this sense of unbridled ambition, people will suspect that they will compromise and sell their birth-right for a mess of pottage. 'After all,' we suspect of them saying to themselves, 'as a Muslim how high can I climb? Better I just take this nice sinecure or that fat bribe and go and sit quietly in my Z security bungalow while the country goes up in flames.'
If fear of Modi leads Muslims to think big and put themselves forward for the highest offices, then, paradoxically, Modi Sarkar will prove the turning point in the fortunes of a community which is in danger of falling behind.