Exclusive: 'No Muslim will have an objection to being called Bharatiya Mussalman'
"I told RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that there are a lot of misconceptions about the Muslim population which need to be dispelled," says former Chief Election Commissioner Dr SY Quraishi in a special edition of Asianet News 'Dialogues' with Resident Editor-Delhi Prasanth Reghuvamsom
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat wanted Muslims to be identified as 'Hindu Mussalman' in line with the concept of Hindu Rashtra, but he changed his stance instantaneously when it was suggested that the minority community could call themselves 'Bharatiya Mussalman' (Indian Muslim), says former Chief Election Commissioner Dr SY Quraishi whose meeting with Bhagwat in September had raised many eyebrows and triggered speculations.
Taking part in Asianet News 'Dialogues' with Resident Editor-Delhi Prasanth Reghuvamsom, Quraishi said: "Originally, he (Bhagwat) did mention the concept of Hindu Rashtra -- that everybody in India is a Hindu and that originally all were Hindus but got converted over centuries. It (Hindu Rashtra) also refers to a geographical area south of the Indus. So therefore, there are Hindu Christians, Hindu Sikhs and Hindu Muslims. We immediately reacted to that. Our response was Hinduism may be the geographical identity, but it is also a religion, and Islam is a separate religion. Therefore, to call somebody a Hindu Muslim is absolutely wrong. He (Bhagwat) immediately said, 'alright, what about calling them Bharatiya Muslim'. We said, 'absolutely no problem'. He said, 'okay, you call yourselves Bharatiya Muslim, and we are okay with that'. No Muslim will have an objection to being called Bharatiya Mussalman."
When asked whether it was a sign that the RSS was willing to change its beliefs, Quraishi said: "I would not be so presumptuous to say that because of us, he changed his stand. But that was his response. It was instantaneous and spontaneous. He said if that is what you think, 'Bharatiya Mussalman' is fine. He said it was acceptable to them."
Muslims overtaking the Hindu population? 'Cannot happen in 1000 years'
During the interaction, Quraishi was also asked about Bhagwat's remarks on population control during his Vijayadashami speech and comments by the RSS that the population of Muslims in India was exploding and changing the demographic character of India. He responded by saying, "He (Bhagwat) did not raise the issue (at the meeting). We raised it. I told him that there are a lot of misconceptions about the Muslim population which need to be dispelled. He heard me out very carefully. I made the point that, of course, the Muslim growth rate is the highest but not as high as presumed. The gap between Hindu and Muslim population growth was never more than one child. The gap was 1.1 in 1991-92, which has now come down to 0.3. It is coming down because Muslims adopt family planning much faster than the Hindus."
"Secondly, if a large part of the Muslim population is not adopting family planning, the second largest section of the population is that of Hindus. Therefore to single out Muslims for not adopting measures for family planning is absolutely wrong because Hindus are in larger numbers. Thirdly, I told him that there is publicity that Muslims are multiplying and increasing the population to capture political power, which is absolutely without foundation because I have not heard any Muslim scholar or leader of any significance talking about it. Many Ulema and maulanas have objected to family planning, saying that it is not permitted in Islam, which is wrong. Islam is not against family planning," Qureshi said.
"Then I pointed out that I got a mathematical model done by an eminent Delhi University professor named Dinesh Singh and his colleague Professor Ajay Kumar based on data from the last 70 years to find out in how many years Muslims can overtake the Hindu population. The graphs and the report he made said that could not happen even in 1000 years. So the propaganda that Muslims are just about to overtake the population is totally baseless. I showed him (Bhagwat) the graph. He heard with rapt attention and did not contradict. And finally, I told him that slogans are raised, implying that Muslims have many wives and that polygamy is practised among Muslims. I told him that the government of India did just one study in 1975, which found that all communities in the country had some extent of polygamy, and the least polygamous were the Muslims," he added.
Watch the full Interview below