Congress and Muslims: Uniting communities in a plural society

Meeting different sections of public representatives is what is done by the political leaders to formulate their political ideologies. So what Rahul Gandhi was doing was discussing the national issues

Photo courtesy: PTI
Photo courtesy: PTI
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Ram Puniyani

Few months ago, when Sadhvi Pragya and Swami Aseemanand got bail in the blast cases of Malegaon and Mecca Masjid, BJP launched a tirade that Congress is an anti Hindu party, as it was during UPA regime that the likes of Sadhvi and Aseemanand were arrested. As a matter of fact these arrests were following the meticulous investigation of the Maharashtra and then by Rajasthan ATS. The whole series of blast cases were thoroughly investigated by Hemant Karkare, the Maharashtra ATS team; incidentally it was Karkakere who was killed in the 26/11 attack on Mumbai.

Now, Urdu daily Inquilab reported that Rahul Gandhi in a meeting with Muslim intellectuals said that Congress is a Muslim party. As such during the discussion with Muslim intellectuals Rahul Gandhi, said that Congress is a party of every community, no more no less. What was said during the meeting was revealed by many of the intellectuals present in the meeting. Historian S. Irfan Habib in a tweet said, “Taken aback to hear that Rahul Gandhi is being accused of calling the Congress a Muslim party in a meeting where I was present. It seems to have malicious intent; no such issue came up at all.” Another intellectual Gazala Zamil said that what was said by Gandhi was very different “On Congress party, while acknowledging that it has made many mistakes, he asserted that it has traditionally been the glue that bound Indian communities and sections together. He assured those present that his party is keen to continue to play this role via accommodating concerns of all sections of Indian society. The attendees in the meeting appreciated this position and encouraged him to strongly uphold the values of justice and equality above everything else.”

Following the news, without its verification the BJP leadership used it as a pretext to attack Congress as a Muslim party. BJP leaders rushed for press conferences to dub Congress as a Muslim party. Nirmala Sitaraman; the defense minister said about Rahul Gandhi (RG) that he has turned from Janeu dhari to ‘Muslim Dhari’. Narnedra Modi came down heavily saying that Congress as per reports is claiming to be a Muslim party that too it is a party of Muslim men, as it is not sensitive to the issues of Muslim women like triple talaq.

We are witnessing a strange communalization of polity. Meeting different sections of public representatives is what is done by the political leaders to formulate their political ideologies. So what RG was doing was discussing the national issues. One Inquilab reporter; twisted his sentence. What was actually said was it is a party of Muslims, the way it is a party of all other communities, no more no less!

Why are BJP leaders bent upon indulging in such ill founded and malicious propaganda against Congress and RG? This is not the first time that they are brining religion into politics. In the case of blast cases they tried to portray Congress as anti Hindu and now it is being called party of Muslims

Congress right from the beginning has been a party of people of all communities and all languages as its goal was secular democratic India. It led the national movement by incorporating the people of all religions and all languages. Movement of Indian freedom, which it presided over, was not only having men but women also participated in it in large numbers. So this all inclusive party; first was dubbed as anti Hindu, and now it is being labeled as Muslim party.

Modi also said that earlier also previous Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had stated that Muslims had the first right on national resources. As such what Dr. Singh had said was that weaker sections of society, dalits, women, Adivasis and Muslims have a first right over the national’s resources, which is what a Government with affirmative action in mind should be saying. While pursuing the affirmative action in our society is very difficult due to over all communalization of society, and the result has been that Muslim community as such has been marginalized.

Forget Congress being able to totally solve problems of Muslim community, in the prevailing circumstances we see that the violence is directed against this community on the pretext of Cow slaughter, beef eating, issues of Bharat Mata ki jai etc. On the other; despite decades of Congress being in power; the economic plight of the community has been declining, Muslims being one community, whose economic condition has worsened over a period of time, as revealed by the reports of Rangnath Mishra and Sachar committees. RG graciously accepted that the implementation of affirmative action has not been on the proper keel and Congress will try to ensure that problems of Muslim community are also addressed, like the problems of any other communities.

Why are BJP leaders bent upon indulging in such ill founded and malicious propaganda against Congress and RG? This is not the first time that they are brining religion into politics. In the case of blast cases they tried to portray Congress as anti Hindu and now it is being called party of Muslims. BJP seeing the forthcoming elections of 2019 knows that it has nothing to show on the issue of Vikas (development), on the plank of which it came to power. Their major weapon on electoral ground has been the emotive issues, the divisive issues in which Ram Temple, Cow, Hindu nationalism have been central to their agenda. So they won’t let any opportunity slip, which can be used for communalization.

As far as problems of Muslim women are concerned, the atmosphere of violence and intimidation creates the biggest problems of insecurity as far as Muslim women are concerned. The issue of triple talaq as brought forward in a proposed Bill is unacceptable as it criminalizes the triple talaq worsening the plight of Muslim women. It is true that in the past Congress has pandered more to the Mullahs, Muslim fundamentalists leadership, to retrograde elements within the Muslim community, while what is needed is to ensure that Muslim community is also provided the social and political atmosphere, where they can breathe freely and live as equal citizens of the country, so that the process of social reforms can be undertaken in right ernest.

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