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VHP is desperate to consolidate support, say Muslims

By Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi
Last updated on: June 16, 2005 04:52 IST
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Muslim leaders and intellectuals have downplayed the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's appeal to Hindus to increase their population, calling it a desperate bid to consolidate its losing support among a section of the majority community.

Muslims who spoke to feel the idea of having a large family is outdated and against the national interest.

Rightwing Hindu outfit VHP, which is currently at loggerheads with its sister organisation and main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, has urged Hindus to produce more children to counter the allegedly over-growing minority Muslim population.

S Q R Ilyas, member of the executive committee of a leading umbrella organization All India Muslim Personal Law Board first laughed at the VHP resolution and then said: "If Hindus want to increase their population, then let them do it. Who has the problem?"

Later, on a serious note, Ilyas, who is also editor of the Urdu newspaper Afkaar-e-Milli said: "To say that the Muslim population in India is increasing is also a myth. It was proved in the recent census report. People are creating unnecessary issues. Population should not be made a communal issue."

"It is the democratic right of an individual. Let people produce as many children as they want if they can take proper care of them," he said.

The latest census figures released by the government said the Muslim population in India was growing at a faster rate than other religious communities, but has reduced from the rate at which the community was increasing in the previous census.

Delhi-based freelance writer Andalib Akhter said: "It is unfortunate. At the time when more and more Muslims are adopting family planning methods, some people are creating unnecessary problems."

"Increasing population in our country is a matter of concern and anybody who is propagating such ideas (to increase population) is actually working against the national interest," he said. He feels the VHP is not the voice of Hindus and people will not follow such appeals in 21st century.

Amir Ali, political scientist at Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University, says the VHP resolution is linked with the current crisis within the Sangh Parivar.

"It is linked to the Advani episode. BJP's parent organisation Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh has shown that it is calling the shots and controlling the BJP. So its sister organisation VHP is trying to consolidate its hardcore Hindutva constituency," he said.

Ali says currently the Sangh Parivar is in complete disarray and its political fortune is in decline. So such resolutions are the outcome of the tussle within the Sangh leaders and its various outfits like the RSS, VHP and BJP. It is aimed at uniting Hindutva supporters on one point.

"Governance today is not an issue. Therefore, they (Sangh Pariwar) are focusing on such emotive issues and trying to galvanise their core constituency," he said.

Downplaying the VHP resolution, he said: "Middle class people in India, be it Hindus or Muslims, are upwardly mobile. They will not accept such a medieval agenda. It does not really carry too much weight. It works only in rhetoric. And Hindutva politics is based on sound and fury."

"The Sangh is also trying to show to the people that is exists and is still functional. It happens when you are out of power," Ali said.

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Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi