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'The PM must react now to protect India's secular credentials'

By Upasna Pandey
January 16, 2015 12:55 IST
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'The prime minister spoke of inclusive growth and being representative of the aspirations of 125 crore people of this country but clearly, he is not being allowed to play that role,' 
All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Kamal Faruqui tells rediff.com's Upasna Pandey.

Even as the electoral campaign picks up pace in Delhi, issues like love jihad, ghar-wapsi and the number of children Hindu women should have, continue to make headlines as `fringe elements’ overshadow the national discourse. As a result, a growing number of people have begun to wonder if development would ever become the national agenda.

To address this, leading Muslim bodies are organising 'Country at Cross-roads’, a colloquium in Delhi on January 18 which will be attended social activists, educationists, and legal experts, to debate the way forward.

All India Muslim Personal Law Board Executive member Kamal Faruqui, who is part of the colloquium's organising team, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to do a lot more to bring development back into the national discourse.

Ahead of the conference, Faruqui tells Upasna Pandey that “the PM seems to be in a dilemma as he does not want to offend his mother organisation (RSS),” even as he gave the PM full credit for focusing on development. 

How do you see Prime Minister Modi’s stance in recent cases on teh provocative statements by his party members and members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh?

I give full credit to PM Modi for focusing on development as the national agenda but he has been in a dilemma. They (the RSS) have wrongly taken the mandate to work on their own agenda. He seems to be silent as he may not want to offend his mother organisation. He must react on this now if the country’s secular credentials are to be protected.

This has created a delicate situation in the country where fringe elements are dominating the main discourse. We have almost slipped into a pre-Independence time when public was talking about self-interest and there was little concern for national interest.”

The BJP recently issued a showcause notice to its member of Parliament Sakshi Maharaj over his `four kids’ statement. Your thoughts on it?

The decision to issue a showcause notice to Sakshi Maharaj is the first sign of the BJP initiating some action in this direction. The party has not been active on other similar instances.

We need to remember that issues such as love jihad, ghar-wapsi’ or the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid issue are not new for the country but these have been turned into a bogey which has eclipsed the agenda of development.

Is the response from the BJP and the government adequate?

Unfortunately no, both the BJP and the government have chosen to remain ambivalent or silent on most of the issues, with the exception of the Sakshi Maharaj issue.

Do you think BJP's electoral chances in Delhi will be bettered by such provocative statements?

I don’t want to comment at all about the political or electoral impact of these issues. For me what is important is whether my country would win or lose. I am deeply worried about that.

If you could list down the causes of your worry, what would they be?

The prime minister spoke of inclusive growth and being representative of the aspirations of 125 crore people of this country but clearly, he is not being allowed to play that role.

There are statements about eliminating Christians and Muslims from India by 2022, which is a cause of worry, apart from the repeated attempts to bring issues around conversion, love jihad, to the national agenda.

By talking about bringing in a law banning conversions, there are attempts to impinge on an individual’s Fundamental Rights, which is a cause of worry.

Also, there are statements given by BJP leaders that India is a Hindu country and Hindu women should have at least four kids, which are a cause of worry. This is not the kind of agenda for which the majority voted the party into power. We must remember that a large number of Muslims and other communities have also voted for the BJP, so all this is worrying.

Will the colloquium you are organising take its recommendations to the government or the PM for further action?

The purpose is to have a meaningful and serious discussion on these concerns.

This will have the participation of not only Muslim leaders but also people from all walks of life who are concerned about the national interest. The group can decide whether the recommendations should be taken to the government or not.

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Upasna Pandey in New Delhi
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