By Danish Ahmad Khan
Till recently TV channels were debating that Congress Party was a party of Muslims. The debate was based on the interview of a Congress leader in Urdu daily newspaper ‘Inquilab’. And, Congress Party in a way was also trying to suggest so.
However, the recent actions of Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi make it abundantly clear that the famed “Pappu” Rahul Gandhi hates Muslims as much as his deceased father Rajiv Gandhi, if not more.
The Congress Party has recently constituted its new organizational structure under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. The Congress Working Committee (CWC) has 23 members and only two (2) Muslims – Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel – have been accommodated. From amongst 18 Permanent Invitees only one (1) Muslim – Tariq Hamed Karra – has found place. To top it all, the most glaring omission has been of Chairman/President of AICC Minority Department, who has not even been made a Special Invitee, while other office bearers such as President, INTUC; President, IYC; President, NSUI; President, All India Mahila Congress; and Chief Organizer, Congress Sewa Dal, find a pride of place in the list of Special Invitees. In a list of a total of 51 members only three (3) Muslims have managed to find place in the party structure.
Now by disowning or discarding the party’s Minority Department, how can Congress dare to call itself to be a party of Muslims or even muster courage to seek their votes.
By ignoring Muslims time and again, Congress Party has only been trying to humiliate Muslims. By choosing not to visit Muslim dominated areas during Gujarat assembly elections and by deliberately not uttering the “Muslim” word, Rahul Gandhi openly displayed his revulsion and animosity against Muslims, which was initially thought to be tactical in the hope of establishing his Hindu credentials. His soft Hindutva approach even paid off and BJP could only win 99 seats.
However, Rahul Gandhi’s “Hate Muslims” policy continued when he hosted Iftar Party during Ramadan but refused to wear the symbolic skull cap for long. Even as a guest presented him a skull cap, he wore it and within 5 seconds took it off for fear of not becoming a spectacle for media, which has tirelessly been trying to portray Congress as a Muslim-leaning party.
Rahul Gandhi has now put an official seal on his Muslim-hate policy by denying a berth to Chairman, AICC Minority Department, in the list of Special Invitees.
It may be noted that after losing 2014 parliamentary elections, the then Congress Party President Ms. Sonia Gandhi had appointed A. K. Antony Commission to study the cause of the party’s massive defeat, which failed to win enough seats and couldn’t even get the coveted post of Leader of Opposition for the first time in the party’s history.
Senior Congress leader A. K. Antony submitted his report and concluded that Congress Party lost elections because it is considered as a party of non Hindus (read Muslims). The findings have apparently tormented and perturbed Congress scion Rahul Gandhi, and ever since he seems to have taken serious note of it and constantly avoiding Muslims publicly.
Muslims have also not forgiven Congress Party since the demolition of Babari Masjid in 1992 and largely decided not to give majority to help it form a government on its own. Quite recently, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid had said that the hands of Congress Party are dipped in the blood of Muslims, and shamelessly continues to remain with the party even today. Even prominent Muslim leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmad Patel have failed to rise to the occasion and not been of much help in getting substantial chunk of Muslim votes in the party’s kitty only because of its double standards and political misadventure. There have also been inklings that Ahmed Patel’s stature has been cut to size in the new dispensation.
Zuber Gopalani, educationist, entrepreneur and Congress supporter from Gujarat, while talking to this Correspondent, said, “After losing 2014 election Congress made Antony Commission to look into the cause of its huge defeat? And, the report was that Congress is known as a party of non Hindus. Rahul Gandhi took a serious note of it. And, all these took a ugly turn avoiding minority publicly. We Muslims also felt that let Congress work and go close to Hindus. We kept very low profile in state elections even in Gujarat, Rahul and his team started ignoring Muslims. There were many NGOs and Muslim social leaders who are not even a member of Congress Party, but they still worked for Congress. Muslims are marginalised not only in national politics but even in Congress Party. Why Minority cell chief is not invited as a special invitee in CWC. Even at state and taluka level minority leaders are not included in screening committees. In minority dominated areas non minority leaders are appointed at Zilla and Taluka panchayat, positions in municipal corporation is given to non minority leaders in spite of seniority and deserving under merit. In the state, Muslims are not given proper representation in organisation. If Congress does not want us, we are clear we don’t want them.”
Rajkot based social activist Farooq Abdul Gaffar Bawani opined that Congress pretends to be pro-Muslim, pro-Dalit and pro-Christian, but in fact it is anti-Muslim, anti-Dalit, anti-Christian and anti-Sikh. By keeping few showpieces in the party from these groups does not make the Congress secular and all inclusive.
“Had Congress been pro-Muslim in letter and spirit then All India Muslim League headed by Mohammed Ali Jinnah would not have developed. Had Congress been pro-Dalit then Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar would not have separately fought for the rights for Dalits and he would have worked under the banner of Congress. During freedom struggle, Christians were not visible baring a few. Had Congress fought for the genuine grievances of Sikhs then Bhindranwales would not have taken birth. In short, Congress is more communal than any other party. Congress is basically an association of upper caste Hindus dominated by Brahmins. Congress has so far befooled the above stated groups. It would be in the best interest of these groups to give Triple Talaq to Congress for their upliftment and betterment,” stated Mr. Bawani.
Usama Memon, an engineering student, strongly believes that Congress is super Hindu Party having top Brahmin leaders. Congress is the main culprit for the current plight of Muslim community. Many of us believe that the demise of Congress is linked with the unfortunate control of the party by one family that did not care for the democratic process of accommodation and election of party leaders.
What plagues the Muslim community is its lack of strong leadership. Muslims say they have been pushed to the margins after the 2002 riots, and though there have been no riots since then, they are under constant pressure to adhere to the nationalistic narrative. “It is a constant pressure that I feel here. I am always aware of my identity, which is not the case in other cities,” said a restaurant owner in Surat on the condition of anonymity.
Keeping in view the Congress antipathy against Muslims, particularly that of party president Rahul Gandhi, it now remains up to Muslims to continue extending support to the Congress Party during 2019 parliamentary elections and bear with public insult, or else reject the party outrightly. However, considering the BJP’s rabid anti Muslim agenda and Congress Party’s public humiliation of Muslims by constantly ignoring them, the marginalized Muslims should instead vote for regional parties in their respective states. Both BJP and Congress Party should be forced to play second fiddle in the regional parties in 2019 parliamentary elections if Muslims want to survive and live honorably in India. Congress Party should be the last choice for the community in the absence of a strong opposition candidate.
(With inputs from Abdul Hafiz Lakhani, Editor, Gujarat Siyasat)
[Danish Ahmad Khan is based in New Delhi. He is Founder-Editor of India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org]