The otherwise sober Congress leader A K Anthony has stirred a hornet's nest by openly saying that Congress secularism has come to mean appeasement of the minorities. So the definition of secularism was not merely anti-communalism but being overtly pro-minorities. It hardly needs to be stressed that the term minorities is often used as synonymous for Muslims. Anthony himself is a Christian and therefore a member of the minority community. But despite being a Congressman, he too used the term appeasement to mean Muslims. It was the unkindest cut of all.
Psephologists say their research shows that the so-called Muslim Vote Bank is a media-created myth. The Uttar Pradesh election proves that even the Muslims voted the BJP in a significantly large number. However, there is a strong "secular" view that majoritarianism has prevailed and there was massive Hindu vote consolidation. It is also true that there is tremendous apprehension about this election and there is a lot of fear, frustration and a feeling of getting reduced to secondary citizenship.
Those people who have visited Gujarat feel the state and the so-called development model have not reached out to the Muslims in refugee camps. Modi often says "all are Indians " and he does not distinguish between Tamilians and Punjabis, Bengalis and Marathis. The experience of Gujarat is that it is psychologically divided. There is a huge "trust deficit" between the state government and the Muslim community. It is also easy to say that the people, mainly the Muslims, must "move on" and not keep the injury of 2002 bleeding. Gujarat has a very bloody history of communal riots and just because some intellectuals and pundits want to "move on" does not mean the Muslims will be persuaded to believe a new era of "genuine secularism" has arrived after nearly 60 years of "pseudo-secularism".
It is also absurd that the Congress policy actually appeased the Muslims, even if they did reach out to the conservative Mullas and Maulavis after the landmark Shahabano judgement. A majority of the Muslims remained educationally, economically and socially backward. That was not only the finding of the Sacchar Committee but also the very rationale of appointing the committee
The educated middle class Hindus feel uneasy with having Muslims as members of their cooperative housing society and the Muslims feel physically and psychologically insecure. This divide is growing and the 2014 elections do not hold a promise of "Happy Days". Indeed, not only the idea, but the reality of a secular society is under siege.