Congress leader Rashid Alvi on Thursday struck a discordant note on Jat reservation issue, saying it sent a “wrong signal” to the Muslim community after the Muzaffarnagar riots but the party disagreed noting an entire community cannot be blamed for the acts of few rioters.
“To award reservation to a particular community after massive riots in Muzaffarnagar has given a wrong signal to the people at large and Muslim community in particular,” Rashid Alvi, a former spokesperson said in a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi.
At the AICC briefing, party spokesperson Shashi Tharoor, however, vehemently disagreed with the contention.
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“We do not believe that crimes are committed by an entire community or caste. I do not think you can ascribe such conduct to an entire community.
“We cannot blame all Jats and all Hindus for what happened in Muzaffarnagar as we do not blame all Gujaratis for 2002 riots,” Tharoor told reporters.
Alvi, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, however, noted in his letter to Gandhi that Muslims see Jats as “perpetrators” of violence in Muzaffarnagar.
Alvi said that the Muslims have not only lost their family members but also their livelihood and land. He recalled that more than 50,000 have been forced to live in camps after the riots.
“UP is a highly polarised polity at this juncture. The decision to award reservation to Jats not only hurts the sentiments of the Muslims but also other backward castes,” he claimed. He, however, made it clear that he was not opposed to reservation for any community per se.
He also faulted the party over the failure to turn the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill into an Act. “Passage of the bill would have showcased our commitment to our core values,” he said, adding that Congress has had a long standing commitment towards secular values.
At the outset, he told Gandhi that some of the steps taken by the government recently are “detrimental” to the interests of the party when the Lok Sabha polls are just a month away.
Alvi, who was the lone leader dropped last year as party spokesman, also expressed apprehensions that some of the party leaders were “working overtime” to weaken the party and strengthen the communal forces.
Union Cabinet had on Monday given its nod for inclusion of Jat community in the central list of OBCs in nine states including UP, a decision that is expected to benefit about nine crore people from the community.
Alvi failed to get a Rajya Sabha renomination and he was also dropped as party spokesperson last year. Before joining Congress in April 2004, Alvi was with BSP from which he was expelled after he had accused party president Mayawati of working under BJP pressure and taking bribes for allotting party tickets.