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Published in the 16-31 Jan 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

‘Congress still the best bet’

Aligarh: Five decades after Jawahar Lal Nehru visited Aligarh Muslim University in 1963, another member from Nehru family, Sonia Gandhi, came here to inaugurate a national Seminar on "Nehru and Nationalism" on 13 December. Sonia’s AMU visit is very important after the defeat of Congress in three states. As far as Muslim politics and the revival of the Congress party are concerned, the warm welcome accorded to Sonia by students and staff of the University indicates that the Congress wrote the first chapter of its revival in Uttar Pradesh.

After her visit, the dominant view on the campus is that the Congress is the only answer to the BJP. A debate is going on within university community on the shift in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s approach and the need to launch anti-BJP movement. In fact Union HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi’s continuous attempts to undermine the autonomy of AMU is also a reason behind the historic welcome to Sonia Gandhi. Recently Mr Joshi conspired through the UGC to restrain the University from holding admission tests for professional courses. On 11 December, whole university community comprising teaching and non-teaching staff including students organised a meeting and staged protest march raising anti Joshi slogans for opposing the move of the UGC. When Sonia Gandhi visited staff club for meeting the teachers, the issue came before her and she promised "to do all she could to resist Centre’s designs". History shows that the AMU played significant role during previous election. "If only Congress could convince about its sincerity, the Muslim community will again support it. It is up to Congressmen to seize the moment," people here feel. 

"Muslims of India including various Muslim kings, dynasties and empires, great Sufi mystical preachers, scholars, poets and artists together have contributed towards forming India’s multi-cultural and multi-religious society. Today, they are under duress and being attacked physically, politically, economically and ideologically. This unfortunate situation is the work of Hindutva forces which aim to create a different interpretation of history, race, culture, nationalism and Indianness. The time has come for Muslims to act for saving secular, multi-religious and humanistic traditions of our country. To achieve this goal, they should seriously debate and consider support to the Congress once again. Despite several ifs and buts, the Congress is still the best bet for saving this nation from chaos," a renowned intellectual said. 

- N Jamal Ansari

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