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‘United opposition need of the hour; fear, uncertainty among Muslims over their safety’

"A Congress-less Opposition shall not be very practical and such declarations would only help the BJP consolidate its hold on electoral politics," said NCP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Fauzia Khan.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: December 28, 2021 9:07:41 am
fauzia khan, muslims, Pune, Pune news, Indian express, Indian express news, Pune latest newsNCP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Fauzia Khan. (File photo)

A Congress-free Opposition is not a practical idea and declarations to this effect by different leaders only helps the BJP consolidate its hold on electoral politics of the country, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Fauzia Khan has said. In conversation with Partha Sarathi Biswas of The Indian Express, the Parliamentarian shared her views on a range of topics such as change in legal marriage age for women, feelings of “fear and uncertainty” among Muslims, and how the AIMIM and the BJP benefit each other. Excerpts:

Q. While every one talks about a united Opposition, on ground we have not seen that happening. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee recently went on to declare that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is dead. What is the stand of the NCP and party supremo Sharad Pawar on this?

Ans. Mr Pawar has been very clear from Day 1 that the BJP can only be defeated if the Opposition is united. A Congress-less Opposition shall not be very practical and such declarations would only help the BJP consolidate its hold on electoral politics. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had protested against the TMC’s stand and our party holds the same stand as his. Shri Sharad Pawar is making efforts to unite the Opposition– his personal relations spreading across parties, he is the right person to do so. As for the details on how that is being done, I am not sure but talks and meetings are probably on.

Q. The government has recently proposed the Shakti Bill, which has raised the age of marriage for girls to 21 years. There is a lot of opposition to this. What is your stand on this? Also, is this another effort to communalise the issue?

Ans. To me, this move by the government is just an eye wash to project itself as champions of women’s right. In the rural heartland, marriages are solemnised early for various reasons. Just by raising the age of marriage how is the government going to bring about any great change in the status of women on ground? Where are the schools, colleges and employment opportunities for women? As for the second part of the question, I do not know how this will be divisive, but going by the BJP’s ideology, all efforts are and will be made by the party to make it so.

Q. You are a prominent minority leader. What is the feeling you get during your interaction with the community?

Ans. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty among the community over its dignity, safety and security. The prime minister goes to assuage fears, but then a conference in Haridwar openly talks about violence against minorities. We have seen in Haryana how the issue of offering Namaz has become a political hot potato. When I talk to the community members, most of them are fearful. In fact, families who can afford, are migrating abroad for safety. Those who can’t are fearful and uncertain about their future.

Q. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a distinct cadre base, which works on ideology. Many of them have dedicated their lives for the party and the cause. On the other hand, the Opposition seems to lack that. Why is that the case and is your party doing anything to address this?

Ans. I agree that the BJP has a strong advantage when it comes to on-ground workers or cadre. It is because religion naturally has a strong, instinctive, emotional appeal for human beings. On the other hand, people who profess secularism or advocate the same do not have this advantage, as this is always emotionally tamer of the two. We need to educate people on better human values and join them to the cause of broader principles of secularism and tolerance. Ironically, every religion propagates good human values but people are not attracted to the good side of religion. As a political party, we need to re-look into how we engage with people. The NCP has started work on that. We are engaging with intellectuals to bring them on a broader platform. But this will take time as such transformation in mindset can’t happen immediately.

Q. A lot has been talked about AIMIM and its political policies. Yet, they seem to have got hold of the minority vote bank. What is your take on this?

Ans. As I mentioned earlier, the politics of some political parties with a right wing ideology is definitely emotive and that is why it has caught the popular imagination. Such parties (AIMIM) try to encash the same. Such parties are there on both sides. Their ideological principles are the same and they mutually benefit one another.

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