Congress president Rahul Gandhi has come under attack for saying, “Yes, Congress is a Muslim party,” as quoted by in the Urdu daily Inquilab. As per the report, the statement was made by Gandhi at a meeting with Muslim intellectuals on July 11 as a part of his party’s outreach programme.
In no time, the report made its way to mainstream media, with Defence Minister and BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman holding a press conference on the issue.
“The President of Congress Party, Mr. Rahul Gandhi has said that Congress is a Muslim party,” Sitharaman said in a press conference held on July 13.
— BJP (@BJP4India) July 13, 2018
“You can’t be janeu dhari at one point… Muslim-dhari at another…,” she was seen saying.
Very conveniently, the BJP then pinned the blame on the Congress if India experiences any religious disturbances before the elections. She said, “Congress party shall be solely responsible if any disharmony plays out between now and 2019 elections.”
Even PM Modi could not hold his excitement in raking up the issue once again in a rally on July 14. He also attacked Gandhi for his alleged remark.
However, the Congress Party, its ministers and the Muslim intellectuals (who attended the meet) have categorically refused this statement, terming it as a lie.
“This is absolute lies&shameful spin by the newspaper. The BJP using it to further its own agenda, yet again, exposes their desperate tactics to mislead the nation. However this will not deter us to fight for India’s founding principles& its democratic values,” Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi said.
This is absolute lies&shameful spin by the newspaper. The BJP using it to further its own agenda, yet again, exposes their desperate tactics to mislead the nation. However this will not deter us to fight for India's founding principles& its democratic values. https://t.co/EN15vL7oNa
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) July 12, 2018
Historian S. Irfan Habib, who attended the meeting said, “Taken aback to hear that Rahul Gandhi is being accused of calling the Congress a Muslim party in a meeting where I was present. It seems to have malicious intent, no such issue came up at all.”
Taken a back to hear that Rahul Gandhi is being accused of calling the Congress a Muslim party in a meeting where I was present. It seems to have malicious intent, no such issue came up at all.
— S lrfan Habib (@irfhabib) July 13, 2018
Fuzail Ahmed Ayyubi, who is an advocate-on-record at the Supreme Court and was present at this meeting, told AltNews, “The fact of the matter is that when an issue was raised before Congress President Shri Rahul Gandhi that how important Muslims are with regard to the policies/scheme of things of Congress Party. In reply to this Congress President Shri Rahul Gandhi said that Muslims are as important to the Congress Party as other religions/sections of the society are and the Congress Party belongs to the Muslims as it belongs to every other Indian, nothing more, nothing less.”
Ghazala Jamil, assistant professor, Centre for Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Writer and activist Farah Naqvi, both attended the meeting and refuted the alleged remarks made by Gandhi.