So, this is how the last brick wall crumbles. There is now unprecedented, open criticism about the Queen, not just the Prince. In order for the Congress to have a chance to recover from the shellacking this is only the first (but welcome) step. There must be a root and branch reform whereby the dynasty forswears power and remains confined to an advisory role (just like the Shahi Imam).
Bihar (Congress) MP Asrarul Haque's criticism of the Bukhari-Sonia meeting in April which was followed by the Delhi-based cleric's appeal to Muslims that they should vote for Congress - "The meeting should not have happened and it was wrong on the part of the Congress party to issue an appeal to one community."
And yes, the Shahi Imam is communal, just as we expect a Sadhu and a Padri to be communal. While all religions have nice words to say re: co-existence, the point of the matter is that you self-identify with one tribe and that your preferences will be to suit yourself and your brothers, often at the expense of others.
If the post-election surveys are accurate then the top-three vote gathering combinations are as follows.
(1) The BJP/NDA axis was supported by Upper Caste hindus, non-Sunni muslims, lower- Other Backward Castes (as opposed to landowning higher caste shudras), non-Jatav Scheduled Castes (Dalits) and (non-Christian) Scheduled Tribes.
(2) Sunni Muslims and upper- OBCs (for example, Yadavs in UP/Bihar) voted for Congress/UPA (except in Tamil Nadu, Odisha, and Bengal where these groups voted for Jayalalitha Jayaram, Naveen Patnaik and Mamata Banerjee).
(3) The Jatav vote concentrated in North India (particularly in UP, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh) was in favor of the Bahujan Samaj Party led by Mayawati.
There are signs that voting patterns in India will become fixed (due to polarization) unless there is a wave election in favor of a charismatic person, or against an unpopular incumbent. With the benefit of hindsight the tsunamo in 2014 combined both these effects.
There were perhaps 10-20 seats (mostly in Uttar Pradesh) where the Muslim-Yadav vote got split between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP), and resulted in the BJP winning even majority muslim seats. If Congress and SP had a formal alliance with clear-cut seat divisions, then it may have been enough to deprive the BJP of the huge psychological boost of a simple majority.
What Sonia did wrong was that she gambled that muslims will unite behind the Congress and vote against SP in the marginal seats. In that narrow sense the Imam's appeal to his flock is actually responsible for a BJP mandate. This is what being "communal" gets you in the end- you unite the Hindus against you and you split up your own vote-bank.
And you lose so terribly that you may never win again.
In an implied criticism of party boss Sonia Gandhi's pre-election meeting with the Jama Masjid shahi imam, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has dubbed Syed Ahmed Bukhari as a "communal" man.
Singh told reporters, "I do not consider him (Bukhari) a secular person. I believe Imam Bukhari is a communal person." The remark comes on the heels of Bihar MP Asrarul Haque's criticism of the Bukhari-Sonia meeting in April which was followed by the Delhi-based cleric's appeal to Muslims that they should vote for Congress. The appeal triggered a controversy.
In what is seen as a direct jibe at Sonia, Haque, according to reports, said, "The meeting should not have happened and it was wrong on the part of the Congress party to issue an appeal to one community."
The meeting, which BJP used to accuse Congress of playing "appeasement" politics, has been controversial because many in the party feel it helped the saffron camp to polarize voters in its favour.
Now, the public criticism from within is likely to embarrass the leadership much more than the attacks from BJP, especially when it has come from a Muslim MP, as also a senior Congress general secretary.
Critically, it marks the first instance of Sonia facing fire for the election debacle or related issues; the anger among party men till now was directed against her son and heir apparent Rahul Gandhi. In the last week, Congress has had to suspend two senior leaders in Kerala and Rajasthan for slamming Rahul. .......