By Muslim Mirror Special Correspondent,
New Delhi: It seems that some Muslim groups and leaders are in a habit of jumping to judgment without cross-checking the facts. The latest case in point is a news item splashed by a section of the ‘national’ media, (provided by the propaganda ministry of Congress to delude Muslims in order to woo minorities particularly Muslims) which said ‘the Congress party has released an additional manifesto for them promising host of things including a 4.5% quota in jobs ‘ and plethora of other other promises. As accepted, the saffron party reacted sharply to this describing it as usual ‘appeasement of minorities (read Muslims). Reacting to the news, some Muslim organizations welcome it while some pooh-phooed it.
The plain fact is that it was not a sub- manifesto as the Congress denied it very next day the report appeared in some dailies. Clarifying party’s position, Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal said the Congress has not come out with any sub-manifesto, pointing out that it was only one of the suggestions made to the party during one of the public consultations it had held before framing manifesto.
Those suggestions that were accepted were included in the manifesto, he said, while those that needed more work have been placed on the Congress website as suggestions that need to be deliberated on. Responding to BJP’s attack that described it as a “last desperate” act by the Congress to get Muslim votes, Sibal said “We have put it before the people,” as these are suggestions for consideration, when the government comes to power. These are suggested policies and programmes, which have come up in the open manifesto consultation process. There is no appeasement; we must respect the sentiments of the public.”
In all probability, the report seems to be a ‘planted story’ in order to provide ammunition to BJP for attacking the Congress and consolidating its hard-core constituency. And the saffron party succeeded in its purpose as Muslim leaders and intellectuals have shown much alacrity in reacting on the so-called offer. It is unfortunate that no one even bothered to verify the authenticity of the news report. The report came in the middle of general elections when voting for over 300 parliamentary seats has been completed.
However, commenting on this, Dr Javed Jamil, who is a thinker and writer, said, “I can’t understand why Congress has taken such a long time in declaring the sub-manifesto. When polling for more than half of the seats has already been conducted, how much it can benefit Congress in thwarting the march of BJP is unclear. Moreover, Congress needs to assert that even if it does not come to power, it will pressurize the government to work for the declared objectives”.
Another intellectual, Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood, who is the president of Zakat Foundation of India, said, “It’s a bold move though the UPA should have done it while in power. Congress was wary of saffron outfits’ reaction to whatever they did for minorities. When Congress faced saffron onslaught, they gave up their presumption that Muslims were an assured constituency.”
While, some other Muslim leaders said they are not convinced with the Congress promise to the community about giving reservation to its backward sections, and feel the offer has come too late in the day.
One can fail to understand that why Muslim leaders did not cross-check the matter with the Congress party or its official website. They would have at least checked the party’s track-record before making any comments. The Congress party took strong notice when the BJP released its manifesto on the very day of first phase polling. It had even asked the Election Commission of India to stop the BJP from doing so. So how can it release the supplementary manifesto specially meant for minorities (read Muslim community) in the middle of elections? Furthermore, if it was really an additional manifesto, the party would have released it with much fanfare and publicity to attract the attention of members of minority community. Instead, it put all the suggestions made to it at the party consultative meeting in January in New Delhi surreptitiously. After much ruckus over this, the party also removed these suggestions from its official website. That amply reflects Congress party’s hypocritical attitude and lack of sincerity towards minorities particularly Muslims. Whatever promises, it made to minorities in earlier two manifestoes, the party failed to fulfill in UPA’s ten year rule as it feared ‘Hindu-backlash’. However, defending the UPA government, Minority Affairs Minister K Rehman Khan has put blame on the state governments for poor implementation of the minority welfare schemes. The other day, he said in Lucknow that if the UPA retains power at the Centre, it will pass the Communal violence bill within 100 days of assuming power. But the moot question is who will trust on the Congress or UPA anymore in view of its pathetic minority report card.