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12 January 2012

GUEST EDITORIAL: Is Congress Trying to Captutre the Leadership of Major Muslim Groups?

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By Kaleem Kawaja

For a long time now Congress party through its Muslim members and leaders has claimed that it is the champion and protector of religious and ethnic minorities and of maintaining an equitable and secular democratic polity in India. For decades as communal riots flared in India with clockwork regularity and the Muslim community suffered horrendous losses of life, property and socioeconomic status, Congress kept on reassuring them that it will bring justice and equal treatment to them. After major commumnal riots in various states Congress kept on setting up enquiry commissions. However the reports of most of these commissions were put on the shelf to collect dust with hardly any of them implemented.

In the instance of major anti-Muslim conflagrations e.g. Bhagalpur riot in Bihar, Nelli massacre in Assam, repeated riots in Ahmedabad, demolition of Babri mosque, the massacre of Muslims in Bombay (1993), the Gujarat genocide (2002) etal the Congress party Prime Ministers themselves made solemn pledges in the parliament to ensure that Muslim victims will be given justice. However, today decades later not a single pledge was ever implemented and none of the Congress leadrs have ever apologized to Muslims for that failing of various Congress governments. In fact even after Justice Liberhan and many mainstream media outlets indicted certain leaders of extremist Hindus as the culprits in the Babri mosque demolition, the Congress government refused to take any action.

At the same time whenever the Muslim community has tried to form its own parties or groups to bring pressure on the political system to get justice and equal treatment, Congress has through its Muslim leaders tried to scuttle or dilute those efforts of the community. Thus in 1970s when Golam Osmani formed the United Muslim Front in Assam, soon Congress played games with him, promising him the position of Chief Minister of Assam and lured him to merge his party with Congress. After Osmani merged his party with Congress he was made only a minister in the Assam cabinet.

It is well known that the venerable Jamiat ul Ulema has been significantly neutered in its effort to get some benefits for the Muslims from Congress by making senior Jamiat leaders (Maulana Asad Madani, Maulana Arshad Madani, Maulana Mahmood Madani) members of Rajya Sabha. A couple of years ago when Maulana Ajmal's AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) was making much headway in the Assam election, Congress managed to remove him from the Assam unit of Jamiat through the influence of the Madani family. Now Congress is again making a major effort to merge AIUDF into the Congress party. This time the effort is being made through the Muslim leaders in Congress party in Assam by creating dissension in the ranks of AIUDF. Maulana Ajmal is being made to campaign for Congress in the UP election.

Another Congress ploy came to light recently when its Muslim leaders tried to capture the leadership of All India Muslim Majlis Mashawarat (AIMMM). In the past, elections for officebearer positions at AIMMM used to be peaceful affairs with consensus being the method. But this time Congress put in a determined effort to remove the long time dedicated and sincere community workers and leaders from the leadership of Mashawarat. By using the manipulative slogan of 'bringing in the new generation into Mashawarat leadership', the election was preceded by massive canvassing and personal comments directed at the senior and dedicated community leaders with long record of service who wanted to keep party politics out of Mashawarat. However the Congress' preferred candidate lost his bid for Presidentship narrowly. Yet Masahawarat may continue to face attempts to cause dissension in its ranks. Mashawarat's determined effort to remain an independent voice for the Muslim community and give election-eve advisories to Muslim voters does not sit well with Congress. They want Mashawarat to behave like Jamiat.

In a similar manner Congress has tried to co-opt the leadership of the "Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz" and its leaders like Ali Anwar and Ejaz Ali by promising to make them members of Rajya Sabha if they merge their group with Congress party in UP and Bihar, where the Pasmanda Muslims are demanding the same status under Mandal Commission as the OBC and SC Hindus.

Similarly as the nationally popular anti-corruption campaign of Anna Hazare has raged across the nation, Congress party is putting pressure on Muslim groups to denounce Hazare as an RSS agent. Thus we saw leaders of Jamiat ul Ulema (Mahmood Madani) and Muslim Ittihad Muslimeen (Asad Owaisi) give speeches toeing the Congress party line of opposing Hazare, a line that will cut Muslims off from mainstream Indians on an issue of major importance to the entire nation. This despite the fact that in India Muslims suffer the most from corruption as being economically backward their ability to pay-for-getting- things- done is the least of all communities.

Also the loud noises made by Muslim groups in the last couple of years asking the Congress government to implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee to uplift the backward Muslim community, were met with Congress agreeing to implement only the very minor recommendations marginally and ignoring the major recommendations. Once again Congress employed its senior Mulim leaders to tell the Muslims that implementation of the major recommendations of the Sachar Committee will "ghettoize the Muslim community".
Over the last 65 years the Congress party has perfected its strategy of making grandiose promises to the Muslims and then throwing only breadcrumbs at them. With Muslim leaders and Muslim groups in its tow, Muslims' very deserving demands for an equitable share in the nation's burgeoning economy and opportunities, have been constantly thrown aside by successive Congress paty governments at the Center and in the states. While other minorities communities eg OBCs, Dalits, Sikhs have formed independent parties and pressure groups that have balked at the Congress bluff, Muslims continue to suffer from putting too much faith in the Congress party promises.

[Kaleem Kawaja is a Muslim community activist. He can be reached at: kaleemkawaja@gmail.com]

2 comments:

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