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For UP minorities, last 4 years spent amid torture, fear: Imran ‘Pratapgarhi’

“In the past four years, the minority faced torture in the state. For the BJP, minority means only Muslims. They cannot answer questions about development and deaths due to Covid, and thus try to divert attention,” Imran said.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow |
June 5, 2021 6:21:04 am
Imran ‘Pratapgarhi’ with Rahul Gandhi

Newly appointed Congress minority department chairperson and Urdu poet Mohammad Imran Khan, popularly known as Imran “Pratapgarhi”, on Friday said minority communities in Uttar Pradesh lived a “tortured” life and in fear under the rule of the BJP government in the last four years.

In a conversation with The Indian Express, Imran, a social media star whose appointment was announced on Thursday, spoke about his party’s plans for the state, and claimed the Congress would play a crucial role in the formation of the next government in Uttar Pradesh. The poet said he would fight “attempts to weaken educational institutions” such as Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Jauhar University, and Ambedkar University.

“In the past four years, the minority faced torture in the state. For the BJP, minority means only Muslims. They cannot answer questions about development and deaths due to Covid, and thus try to divert attention,” Imran said.

Alleging that the education system in Uttar Pradesh was being corrupted and institutions such as AMU, Jauhar University in Rampur, and Ambedkar University were being targeted and weakened, the Congress leader said he would fight for their rights. He added, “I have been fighting the government for the rights of minorities in the past and will do it now with more authority wherever the BJP government is targeting minorities or plans to target in the future. I will lead the fight.”

“Pratapgarhi” took a dig at the government over reports that universities in Uttar Pradesh would have to teach philosophy students books authored by yoga guru Ramdev and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and said it shows the downward spiral that the state’s education system finds itself in.

The Congress leader told The Indian Express that he views his appointment as a result of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s dream and efforts to build a “New Congress”.

Imran said he was interested in poetry from his childhood, and became a professional “shayar [poet]” in 2010. Rahul Gandhi inspired him to join the Congress, he added, following which he ended up contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Moradabad. He was trounced, receiving only 5 per cent of the votes.

“Mujhe khushi hai, Rahul ji jis nayi Congress ka sapna dekhte hain usmein ek bari jimmedari mili hai [I am happy that this big responsibility is part of Rahul ji’s dream of ‘New Congress’.”

He added, “For the past seven to eight years, I was doing agitation by using my shayari, raising issues of minorities and trying to save the Constitution. Then two years ago, impressed with the vision of Rahul Gandhi, I became a part of the Congress and have now been given this responsibility.”

Asked about the challenges the Congress faces in attracting the minority vote at a time it is showcasing its “soft-Hindutva” face to counter the BJP, Imran said, “It is a big quality of the Congress that there is a freedom to raise the issues of the community that one comes from. The party does not stop anyone from raising the issue of their community or of those they feel strongly about. These are all misconceptions that have been created.”

Using himself as an example, he continued, “I am in the party for the past two years and have been raising all kinds of issue for minorities and I do not remember the party ever asking me not to speak about minority issues.”

The poet-turned-politician claimed there was no one other than Rahul Gandhi who was fighting “kattarta [fundamentalism]” to save the “pillars of democracy”.

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