There is a sense of unease among a section of the Muslim leadership in the Congress over celebratory voices in the party on the occasion of bhoomi pujan for the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
These leaders underlined that they are not against construction of the temple, as the Supreme Court verdict favoured it. They argued that the party and some of the leaders should have reflected the sentiments of the minorities, too.
Former Minority Affairs minister K Rahman Khan said he is disappointed with the “whole change” taking place in the party by “forgetting its values”. He was particularly upset with claims of former Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath that former Prime Minister, late Rajiv Gandhi, had opened the locks of Ram temple.
Former External Affairs minister Salman Khurshid did not share Khan’s anguish but asserted that the Supreme Court verdict the party has welcomed was for both a temple and a mosque. He said, “I have no problem if any of my colleagues celebrates one part of the judgment. (But) I would expect that when the other part of the judgment is implemented…I would hope and expect that they will celebrate that, too. And that is not just for my own party but also for the Prime Minister.”
Former Rajya Sabha MP Rashid Alvi said he is “disappointed” that the Congress and other opposition parties did not question Prime Minister Narendra Modi for performing bhoomi pujan and “violating his Constitutional oath”.
AICC secretary and Bihar MLA Shakeel Ahmed Khan underlined that there have always been different streams and different voices in the Congress on every issue. “There are voices dissenting from the party’s voice heard today — and I am one of them. My voice is different, especially from that of Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath,” he said.
The comments came even as former party chief Rahul Gandhi is learnt to have told one leader, who had complained about Nath and Singh’s statements, that he will “never allow the Congress to move away from its secular ideals”. “Don’t worry about it,” he is learnt to have told the leader.
Khan, a former Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman, referred to the debate in the Constituent Assembly on May 26, 1949 regarding deletion of the provision of a separate electorate for minorities.
Quoting from the debate, Khan pointed out that Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel were asking minorities to trust the majority, when Frank Anthony, representing the Anglo-Indian community, said: “I say it without any offence, we see members of this great party who technically are members of the Congress, but spiritually are members of RSS and Hindu Mahasabha. Unfortunately, I read speeches day in and day out by influential and respected leaders of the Congress, who say that Indian Independence can mean only Hindu Raj, that Indian culture can only mean Hindu culture. These are causes for misgivings.”
“Even today,” Khan told The Indian Express, “it’s the same thing.”
Khan said, “We were defending all along that a local court ordered the opening (of Babri Masjid’s locks). All these years, we Muslims…Congressmen defended that it was not Rajiv Gandhi who was responsible for opening of the locks… it was court’s decision. Even when idols of Ram Lalla were placed in 1949-50… Nehru was annoyed with that… Now you are turning the history; now you say we (Congress) have done it. It is changing the stand with time. It is very bad.”
Khurshid said: “Any person who is sensitive and committed to secularism needs to say… let us respect the judgment in toto. The judgment says a temple and a mosque (should be built). If somebody is building the temple, you give them your support. If somebody is building a mosque, you should support (them too)… but the mosque is…delayed. They (Muslim side) haven’t come forward.”
Stating that he has no reason to be disappointed with the party’s position, Khurshid said, “What I am saying is part of the party’s position, except that it may not have been articulated from a party platform…. My party says we accept the judgment. I am also saying we accept the judgment. I am only telling the world what the judgment is — the judgment is about a temple and a mosque.”
Alvi said he is disappointed that the Congress did not raise its voice against Modi performing the bhoomi pujan. “Nobody has spoken against Narendra Modi… It is a secular country and he is Prime Minister of every citizen, not PM of one community. It is against the oath taken by him…”
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