INC leader Rahul Gandhi’s comments on the secularity of Muslim League has sparked a raging controversy in India, with the BJP attacking Congress and Gandhi for mischaracterising the party in debate.
Indian National Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has sparked yet another controversy through his comments on the Indian Union Muslim League, stating that it is a “completely secular party” and that there is “nothing non-secular” about it. The Bharatiya Janata Party has attacked Gandhi as well as Congress for the statement, characterising it as “saddening” and “unfortunate.”
Gandhi made this remark in an interactive session at National Press Club in Washington D.C. He was asked about his party’s criticism of the allegedly Hindu nationalist ruling party of India despite the fact that his own party is in coalition with a “Muslim party” in Kerala.
Criticism from BJP
Leaders of BJP launched an offensive against Gandhi, attributing the IUML as a successor to Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League that was responsible for India’s partition. Union Minister Anurag Singh Thakur attacked the IUML by stating that the party consists of people who stayed back after the partition, and that they “advocated for Sharia law.” Thakur claimed that Gandhi has to favour the Muslim League since he has to contest Lok Sabha from Wayanad, a Muslim-majority constituency.
Dr. Sudhanshu Trivedi, national spokesperson of BJP, echoed Thakur’s claims by equating Congress’ ally with Jinnah’s outfit. Trivedi asserted that Jinnah’s Muslim League had dominated the pre-Independence provincial polls in the region where Kerala is today. Trivedi also cited certain legislations proposed by Congress and IUML in 2013 that were made to facilitate the majority Muslim population only. Lastly, Trivedi accused Congress party of terming Islamic parties like AIMIM, IUML, and Indian Secular Front as secular, as well as mischaracterising radical Islamic organisations like PFI as “cultural” bodies.
Defense of the Congress Spokespersons
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera drew a sharp distinction between the Muslim League led by Jinnah and the Congress ally IUML. He stated that even BJP has allied with IUML in 2012 to retain the Nagpur Municipal Corporation. However, he did not comment on the secularity of IUML, the matter under scrutiny. Several Congress leaders also counterattacked BJP leaders, terming them as “illiterate” and as peddlers of fake news.
What does IUML’s Website Say?
The website of Indian Union Muslim League terms itself as the “only Muslim community-catering organization.” Under the achievements of the party, the website claims that IUML “fought” for the preservation of Muslim Personal Law. The party also successfully led an agitation to bestow minority character to Aligarh Muslim University. Furthermore, the website mentions how it continues to fight for interests of the minorities, and “reservation for the Muslims as a minority” in institutions.
Based on the website of the IUML party itself, it is evident that the party works for the upliftment of the Muslim community, and advocates for several rights such as reservation for the Muslim community only. The website does not mention any other minority religion or community in its “about” section. Considering the statements from its own website, Rahul Gandhi’s statement in Washington D.C. is controversial at least and debatable at best.