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'Whether You Win Or Lose In War...'

April 04, 2024 11:03 IST
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'...It is important for you to take a stand.'
'It is a sin to remain silent when the basic structure of the Constitution is being attacked.'

IMAGE: Arrested Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's wife Sunita Kejriwal at the INDIA alliance's Save Democracy rally at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi, March 31, 2024. Photograph: Shrikant Singh/ANI Photo

Shahid Siddiqui has been a leader in search of a political party, his stints in the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress all ending when he heeded the voice of his conscience and spoke up.

His experience with the Rashtriya Lok Dal was no different. Once Jayant Chowdhury decided to join the National Democratic Alliance, Siddiqui realised there was no room for him in the party.

"All political parties want Muslims in the party who should open their mouth only twice in the party forums. First time they should open the mouth to eat paan, and the second time to spit out the paan. They do not want Muslims like me who raises questions in party forums," Shahid Siddiqui tells Syed Firdaus Ashraf/ in the concluding part of the interview.

You interviewed Mr Modi as a journalist long ago for which you were shown the door by the Samajwadi Party. What is difference do you see between Mr Modi then and now?

I had interviewed him on the 2002 Gujarat riots. I never knew him as an individual. He answered my questions and I was satisfied with it. He did not walk away like he did during Karan Thapar's interview.

I cannot compare him from then and now, but I can compare him to Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

How different is Mr Modi from Mr Vajpayee?

When Vajpayeeji was prime minister he told me to go to Pakistan with Kuldip Nayar to see that change takes in the relations between the two countries.

He believed in Raj Dharma. He was very fair with Opposition leaders.

PM Modi is not following the policies of Mr Vajpayee. PM Modi is not fair with Opposition like Mr Vajpayee was.

Mr Vajpayee never discriminated against anybody, especially minorities. Mr Vajpayee believed that once you are prime minister of India you are the PM of the whole nation and not of a particular group, community or party.

Do you mean that PM Modi discriminates against minorities? But he always speaks of 'Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas' and emphasises that poor Muslims get government benefits like rations or loans for homes. Don't they?

No, I will not say this is not happening on the ground when it comes to distributing these freebies.

But you have got to understand that distributing freebies is a different thing and uplifting Muslim society on the education front or jobs or for that matter bank loans is a different issue.

No Muslim can think of getting elected as a BJP MP today. They do not have any share in the power structure of today's India.

Discrimination is going on against Muslims at a high level, but not on the lower level. When it comes to distributing rations there is no discrimination.

You were in the Congress, then you moved to the SP, then the BSP, and then the RLD. After that you again moved to the SP, then the RLD again, only to quit now. Why do you get disillusioned, or are you too thin-skinned for politics?

I am not thin-skinned, but the parties you mentioned do not run by their ideology that they propagate. They propagate their ideology when they are in the Opposition, but once they are in power they change their ideology, and I do not change. I stand by my ground.

During the Emergency I was a university topper and still spoke against the wrong done by the Congress at that time.

I could have joined the IAS then, but since the Emergency was declared my father went to jail for opposing it. I stood by those principles then.

When I ask questions in the party they have a problem in the party.

Most of the parties want Muslims, but on the condition that they should not ask questions in the party.

All political parties want Muslims in the party who should open their mouth only twice in the party forums.

First time they should open the mouth to eat paan, and the second time to spit out the paan.

They do not want Muslims like me who raises questions in party forums.

Politics today has reduced a person to become a blind follower of a party or a leader of that party. I cannot follow blindly any party.

I joined a political party for their ideology, but if the parties change their ideology after coming to power I cannot remain silent.

I was thrown out of the SP and my crime was only that I interviewed the then chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi.

I was thrown out of the BSP for asking questions to Mayawati.

Today, the RLD has changed its ideology, so I am out.

I cannot follow the dictum of party leaders blindly if they change their ideological stance.

Which is the party in which you worked that best served the interests of Muslims?

There is nothing called a good party or bad party for Muslims. Every party has good people and bad people.

Every party has done good work for Muslims at certain situations of time and not that well for Muslims at certain situations.

One has to judge political parties by their action at a particular moment and a particular situation.

There is no black and white in politics. There are so many shades and one must keep one's eyes and mind open.

Whoever you want to support, support them with your eyes open and oppose them too with your eyes open.

I don't believe in blind support or blind opposition to any political party.

Since you have been in North India and associated with Muslim politics, why do you think someone like Asaduddin Owaisi never gets a huge mandate from Indian Muslims?

I have always opposed the politics of religion. My father had opposed the Muslim League in pre-Partition days. He opposed two-nation politics and was against the politics of Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

My father was one of very few Muslims who migrated from Lahore to Delhi when he realised Partition was inevitable.

Muslims can keep their religious identity, but they cannot keep their religious-political identity.

They must fight for their rights with the democratic parties of India.

If they fight for any of their rights through religious parties it will not benefit them but it will be a loss for them.

This is the reason Owaisi could not extend his reach beyond Hyderabad city.

On a personal level I respect him because he is a very learned person. However, I am not convinced by his politics.

So what next for you?

Nothing right now, but I will be supporting any leader who stands by democracy and for the country's Constitution.

I will try to do my best with whatever little means I have and contribute.

I believe you may know the result, whether you win or lose in the war, it is important for you to take a stand.

You have got to be like Hazrat Imam Hussain (who took a righteous stand and was martyred in the battle of Karbala).

Standing up and to be counted is more important than to be silent.

It is a sin to remain silent when the basic structure of the Constitution is being attacked.

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