Cong did not appease Muslims, but only upheld their Constitutional rights: Salman Khurshid

By Naz Asghar  ( With video on home page)

Sep 10,  2019

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Salman Khurshid today strongly dismissed the view that his party had been indulging in appeasement of Muslims, and that this ”so-called appeasement”  was one of the reasons for the rise of the BJP.

Mr Khurshid said that there were certain demands of Muslims like restoration of the minority character of  Aligarh Muslim University, the promotion of  Urdu language, and the protection of the Muslim personal law, on which the Congress was accused of appeasement, and there some elements within the Muslim community that invited the majority community to see the Congress standlike that, but the fact was that the Congress was only upholding the Constitutional rights of minorities.

And Muslims, naturally,  had certain expectation from the Congress as a ruling party regarding their rights guaranteed by the Constitution, the senior leader said in an interview with India News Stream during which he spoke on various issues like alienation of Muslims from the Congress, the issue of their security, the rise of right wing Hindutva politics, Kashmir and NRC etc

He said the Congress was on the other hand blamed by Muslims for not delivering on its promises.” I think that was probably unfair as to deliver on promises of a particular segment or community,  society or community one must take into consideration what would be the reasonoble reaction of other communities, justified or unjustified,” he said replying to a question on the causes for the drift of the minority community from the grand  old party.

The Congress was blamed for the demolition of Babri Masjid, which was unfair, ”it was a situation that went out of our hands despite our best efforts,” he said.

He accepted, while answering a question,  that even before the Babri Masjid episode, there were other things happening, there were communal riots, but said that his party accepted the responsibility and was punished for that.

And then, Muslims were not the only group that drifted away from the Congress, as other groups also parted way as caste identity became the hall mark of Indian politics, whose result was the rise of parties like the SP, BSP and RJD etc, he said, adding, ”but the question is are the Muslims better off now. But by saying this, I do not claim that they had no option but to come back , but they could have negotiated better terms with the party.”

That said, it did not mean that the whole Muslim population had stopped supporting the Congress, as there were definitely aeras where the Congress was in power in which the Muslim voters had played a significant role, the Congress leader said.

Khurshid said he saw the rise of right wing Hindutva as part of global social trend the world over where you go from left to right and identity based on religion becomes a very important factor,”.

Indians were living in a very complicated situation today, finding the syncretic, pluralist idea of India under threat by the rise of a right wing party which says that the mjority has a way of life and a way of thinking that must necessarily prevail, and must be considered as real India, which is a proposition difficult to accept by those who believe in the Constitution and believe in the fact that all those living in India had made their contribution to it, Khurshid said.

He, however, expressed optimism about  people  finally getting out of this,  and syncretic and secular mind of an average Indian would prevail.  ”But for that Hindus and Muslims will have to communicate with eachother.  If we give up communication, then nothing will happen different from what the things are today.”

When asked whether the Opposition, especially the Congress,  was responsible for  two successive stunning victories of the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls, Mr Khurshid said that as he had already said ,  it would be stupid to blame the Congress solely for that.

He, however, admitted that the party failed to cummunicate to the people its manifesto which was out standing. He also raised doubt, ”personally, not on behalf of the party, ”about the EVMs and said that though there was no scientific evidence about the manipulation of the voting machines, there was enough of anecdotal evidence that casts dounbt over their integrity.

Asked whether the Congress party had done any introspection and sincere appraisal of its dismal performance in the Lok Sabha election, Mr Khurshid said that had not happened as yet.

”I want to give you an honest reply. My reply is that it’s a very very difficult time for us. The introspection that we need has not happened,  because sadly and despit our best efforts, our young and energetic leader who came out as a promise for next 20 years decided to give up responsibility of leadership .

Mr Khurshid justified  the Congress  again going back to Ms Sonia Gandhi to head the party, saying she enjoyed trust of everyone and had the ability to take up the challenge. By donning the party head’s mantle once again, she has given  the time the pary badly needs to reorganise itself, he added.

He also said that if EVMs were a factor in the victory of the BJP , then the nature of the appraisal to be done by the Congress would be different.

Asked how he viewed the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and the unprecedented lockdown that preceded and followed it in Kashmir, he said it was one of the  very sad episodes in the post Independence history of the country,  which could be compared to Babri Masjid demolition, Mumbai terror attack , the inevitable consequence of what happened in Harmandir Saheb during the  Sikh revolt .

”This Government is living in a fool’s paradise if it thinks, it can solve the  issue so easily. It’s a very, very complicated situation.” Khurshid said.

”We could be blamed for not having done anything for 50 years. I believe, we did achieve a great deal. We did keep a part of the soul of kashmir integrated with India. I hope that is not hurt by what this govt has done. It is too early to say. I would pray at the cost of our failure that this government achieves what it is trying to do.”

Mr Khurshid hit out at the Modi Government again on the issue of NRC, saying that the government was indulging in a foolish thinking that the problem of migration could be solved by police.

”Migrations happen all over the world. Indian go to US, Europe and demand their rights. We celebrate the facts that the Indian diaspiora in Surinam, Malaysia, Mauritius, the US, the West Indies, and the UK where the Indian people of one or two generations ago are today holding top positions, playing for cricket team mcc. It is true that we cant suffer multitudes coming to india for we are stressed regarding land sources, jobs etc but it is an issue that cannot be solved by police. Now some accounting was necessary to know the truth as people were saying that millions of refugees had come in, but today we at least know the numbers.”

”Some human tragedies have obviously surfaced but we must in a compassionate and sensible way handle them. At the end of the day, are we committed to removing statelessness rather than removing stateless citizens?. Are we talking to Bangladesh and whatever soluion we find by talking to Bangladesh will it apply to other cases as we have Srilankan Tamilians  who have not still gone back.Or is it going to be a very very partisan approach for which the citizenship bill is supposedly being brought on statue books,” he said.

Khurshid stressed that this was all a question of striking the right balance. ”Are we going to keep people in the detention centre for next 50 years. Are we going to push them to Bangladesh at the gun point or are we going to find a sensible solution to it? This is the question that the future government have to answer,’ he said.

–India News Stream