New Delhi, July 12: There is no secret that the Muslims are feeling isolated and marginalised under the Narendra Modi regime at the Centre. While commoners are maintaining a stoic silence over various issues affecting their lives fearing further backlash, a section of Muslim intellectuals and activists are speaking about the fears and issues of the community.
In such a polarised situation, Muslims don't want the nation to be further divided ahead of the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The big elections are likely to take place in April/May next year. However, for the last few months almost all the political parties have already started campaigning for the polls.
As a part of his Muslim outreach programme, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday evening met 12 intellectuals from the community at the national capital.
The thinkers raised some valid issues about the Muslims and also advised Rahul how to deal with the "tricky" Muslim question. The Congress has always been attacked by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for its "Muslim appeasement" policies.
The criticism against the Congress is true to an extent, but under the Modi regime issues like mob lynching, beef ban, love jihad and ghar wapasi have further pushed the Muslim community to the edge.
According to ANI, Muslim intellectuals have advised Rahul not to talk about the Muslim community in particular and rather speak on issues like poverty and education on a whole.
"Today in the meeting, we advised Rahul Gandhi to not talk about the Muslim community in particular as it will give others an opportunity to polarise him as a leader. He should rather talk about poverty and education. If he does so it will affect 96 per cent Muslims like other Indians," historian S Irfan Habib told ANI.
The noted thinkers and writers have asked Rahul to do a self-introspection of the Congress. The scion of the Gandhi family was urged to think about how "the Congress worked in the era of 1970s, when it talked about inclusiveness and 'Sajha virasat'," Habib said.
Along with Habib, the others who met Rahul were senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid, writer Rakhshanda Jalil, industrialist Junaid Rehman, chairman of Congress minority department Nadeem Javed, writer Farah Naqvi and Muslim intellectual Iliash Malik, among others.
"A number of lawyers, historians and university intellectuals today met Rahul Gandhi and discussed public policy with him. They gave their feedback to the leader of the Opposition on the areas they are working in. Hope more such interactions will take place in the future," Khurshid said.
The guests denied that they spoke anything about the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and the personal law board for Muslim community with Rahul.
"We didn't talk about the personal law board as the matter is currently in the court. We didn't come here to resolve an issue. Rahul Gandhi heard nicely whatever we advised to him. There are a few problems of the minority community, which are especially about Muslims. So, it was our responsibility to meet political parties and tell them our problems. Since the Congress is the biggest opposition party, that's why we met Rahul Gandhi as he is the President of the party," said Malik.