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Opportunistic Politics Never Serve a Community

by M Shahabdeen, Muslim Guardian, August 7, 2007

At a time when discussions and dialogues on how to tackle the challenges facing the Muslims are taking place in various parts of the country, the unmindful Muslim leadership and parties are moving their dices with the only thought of acquiring power to them and their political parties.

(This article was published on Sunday, 5th August 2007 in Virakesari, it is translated into English by MIC – Sri Lanka and published here)

Political parties representing the minorities cannot follow in the footsteps of their counterparts in the major community who engage in opportunistic politics and, in order to win power, talk and work to suit the circumstances. None of their actions ever affects the well-being of the Sinhala community. Whenever a government changes hands, the interests of the Sinhala people are even better served than before while conspiracies and treacheries against the minorities are always increased. When the parties of the minority take to opportunistic politics with only power and prestige as their ultimate goal, then the community aligned to these parties suffers severe setbacks.

In the current political set-up in Sri Lanka, many Muslim politicians are observed to undertake opportunistic politics resulting in their community facing serious problems. The Muslim intelligentsia and other civil societies are highly worried over this situation.

At a time when discussions and dialogues on how to tackle the challenges facing the Muslims are taking place in various parts of the country, the unmindful Muslim leadership and parties are moving their dices with the only thought of acquiring power to them and their political parties.

All the Muslim parties are now within the government ranks; yet, none of them have formulated and acted on any plans to uplift the condition of the community. They are all aligned together, but the leaderships are engaged in severely criticizing one another and are conducting politics of criticism the result of which is the increase in the number of divisions and disputes. The only intent of the Muslim parties is that under no circumstances should an opposing party and its leadership secure any gains at one another’s expense.

When the Muslim Congress sat on the opposition benches, the Muslim leadership within the ruling clique invited them to join the government, and when they showed their reluctance, they were accused of being part of the United National Party incapable of escaping its clutches. Meanwhile, for their part, the Muslim Congress went on criticizing the government and its Muslim Ministers and parliamentarians.

While the opposing parties continue to heap criticism on the Muslim Congress who joined the Government despite criticizing it severely, all the parties keep on pouring their praise on the President and the Government.

Praising the Government and all other related gimmicks are carried out in order to enhance the authority of the Ministerial post. With the Ministerial posts they have obtained, they have been improving the development work of the lands of their birth greatly while only affording step-motherly treatment to their neighbouring villages, but, in the guise of development, the fundamental rights and the lands of the Muslims can never be lost.

Exploiting the opportunistic politics undertaken by all the Muslim political leaderships to suit their needs, the chauvinistic majority has been working hard to weaken the Muslims.

The major problem facing the Muslims today is the protection of their land and properties and recovering whatever they have already lost. The history is yet to witness of any party, claiming and clamouring to identify themselves as the voice of the Muslims wherever they go, to express their genuine concern for this sorry situation or to speak strongly against it. The land and properties of the Muslim community have become a question mark. So has its security. The Muslims are being murdered daily by unknown persons and this trend keeps on increasing by the day.

The people’s representatives of the Muslim community experiencing various such calamities shed only crocodile tears and are never known to express their sympathies openly with an iota of sincerity. The Muslim ministers enter into discussions with no detriment visiting their power or position. The problems of the Muslim community are just a talking-point confined only to the election time.

Only when the time of election approaches, the Muslim political leadership shows sudden interest in the affairs of the community. When that is over, their lust for power makes them seek justification for the blunders committed by the chauvinistic majority and for the systematic and well-planned actions it perpetrates on the community.

In the course of Sri Lanka’s political history, the promulgation of Sinhala as the Official Language in 1956, the Constitutions introduced in 1972 and 1978, the riots of July 1983, and the Indo-Sri Lanka Pact of 1987 severely affected the minority community.

The ethnic problems of the North-East in the 1990s outdid all of the above and brought about in their wake untold misery to the Tamil and Muslim communities and caused loss of properties worth millions of rupees.

The difficulties suffered by the Muslim community in today’s environment are even worse than those suffered during the above period. The Muslim political parties who have no time to undertake any meaningful action to arrest this trend are just busy singing their own praises.

At a time when communal politics reigns supreme, it is imperative for the present day Muslim parties to unite together. They must do so at least to safeguard the fundamental rights of the Muslims.

However, the Muslim leaderships or the politicians are only hell-bent on parading as ministers, and when they fail to secure any ministerial post, they do not hesitate to run protest campaigns, take their supporters to the streets and to cross over to another party.

No Muslim politician is known to have changed allegiance to a party or to have forsaken his position for the sake of the community.

Instead of pinning their hopes on the politicians for their redemption, the Muslim community should set up pressure groups to control the political parties. These groups should be able to command the respect of all the Muslims and be capable of devising beneficial plans and placing them before the community. Otherwise, the so-called political leadership will leave the community in the lurch.

Pictures: Muslim Guardian