Special Reports

Rahul meets minorities, tells them no need to fear anyone

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on 23 December assured minorities that they should not be scared of anybody.

His assurance came at a time when the BJP is relying on a polarising strategy on communal lines under its PM candidate Narendra Modi.

Mr Gandhi’s assurance of secular India came during his interaction with representatives of minorities including Muslims, intellectuals and civil society organisations. They were called for consultation for the Congress’ 2014 election manifesto.

The interaction with minorities was the second consultation on the manifesto. Its central focus was on issues concerning minority communities. It was attended by nearly 200 participants representing over 100 civil society organisations from across the country.

Senior Congress leaders Salman Khurshid, K. Rehman Khan, Oscar Fernandes, Khurshid Saiyed, Jairam Ramesh, Pradeep Jain, Haroon Yusuf were present during the consultation.

Mr Gandhi stressed on the need to “fight politics that thrives on creating fear”. He said the Congress believes in “shanti ke saath kranti (revolution with peace)”.

The meeting was held to seek the views and demands of minorities at the grassroots level for inclusion in the party’s poll document.

The participants at the meet emphasised the need to see to it that “around one lakh Muslims living in relief camps” are sent back to their homes.

The meet also saw some plain-speaking by the participants who told Mr Gandhi that issues concerning the minority community should be decided by talking to representatives on the ground and not just to some Muslim leaders at the top.

Representatives from the Muslim community made a strong pitch for the passage of the communal violence Bill, while there was also a demand for reservation for minorities.

At the meet, while members from Jain community, too, demanded minority status for themselves, Christian members raised the issue of Kandhmal riots. Further, some members from the Jain and Sikh communities made allegations of persecution in the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat.

When concerns were raised over the non-implementation of Sachar committee recommendations, Minority Affairs Minister Khan said that 69 of those recommendations had been accepted.

From the Muslim community, one of the speakers was Dr Zafar Mahmood, chairman of Zakat Foundation of India who demanded full and quick restoration of justice and fairplay for the downtrodden Muslim community of India.  He told Mr Gandhi that currently Muslims are not happy with Congress which has been paying lip service to all matters. Given the current mood, Muslims don’t have an inner urge and enthusiasm to vote for Congress even if their vote goes waste. Muslims mostly may go in for the option of “Ham to doobein ge sanam tumko bhi le doobein ge”.

He told Mr Gandhi, “please don’t bank merely on promises. Muslims gave you ten long years to deliver.”

Dr Mahmood said the Congress has the next seventy days to show something. “We should have in our hands the copies of implementation orders issued by the competent authorities of various central and state ministries”.

Dr Mahmood said, “UPA I delivered Sachar Committee, Mishra Commission, MoMA, National Commission for Minorities Edu Instns and National Scholarship Scheme for Minorities. Sachar & Mishra reports were accepted by your Government. But, during UPA II, the consequent actions - which were meant for Muslims - got watered down and diluted among all Minorities.” The He presented the list of the 20 demands which he has articulated as a set of Muslim demands from political parties seeking Muslims votes.

See also: Mushawarat declined to participate, p. 5

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2014 on page no. 13

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