Where Have Congress Muslim Spokespersons Disappeared?

By Mumtaz Alam Rizvi

New Delhi: It seems that Congress, the oldest political party of the country, formed during British colonial era, has forgotten its constitution, traditions and manifesto, or is being pushed, according to a well thought out plan, towards Hindutva without the knowledge of its high command.

The party that once used to have a young Muslim like Maulana Azad as its president, is now ignoring [and sidelining] Muslim leaders. Scaring [Congress high command], of BJP’s polarisation [and possible Hindu backlash], Muslim politicians have been pushed to the margins. Is it not surprising that during the last five years not even a single Muslim spokesman has been asked to address a press conference held at the Headoffice of All India Congress Committee (AICC)?

Muslim community is fully aware of the communal thinking being promoted in the media office run under the leadership of Randeep Singh Surjewala, the politician from Haryana who has lost twice in assembly by-elections. Murmurs are rife in the community that Surjewala is doing what Janardan Dwivedi was ding before him.

Ghulam Nabi Azad and Salman Khurshid are on top in the list of senior spokespersons of the Congress. Ghulam Nabi Azad, sadly, happens to be the opposition leader in Rajya Sabha and the incharge of Haryana as well. Therefore, whenever he came in the AICC, he only came to give a briefing on [his performance and other] issues relating to [his role as] the opposition leader, or because there was some new entry in the Congress in Haryana or to address the media on [the decisions made by] Congress executive committee.

Salman Khurshid has been deprived even of this little privilege. He is in such a state that he, perhaps, feels nervous in giving a byte to media. Notwithstanding the fact that he has served as a Foreign Minister twice, has held the office of the Law Minister, is a senior Supreme Court advocate and a highly educated man, hardly does Mr Surjewala remember him.

Why has Salman Khursid not been given the position of a senior national spokesman and why does his photograph say that he is a senior spokesman, even the Congress may not have a clear answer to this question.

Similarly, former MP, diplomat and journalist, M Afzal and former leader of JNU students union and current Rajya Sabha MP Syed Naseer Hussain have also been included in the panel of national spokespersons. [Like other Muslims] The roles that these two national spokespersons play is also nominal. When was the last time when they were called to address a press conference in AICC, not even Surjewala would be able to tell.

During the lockdown press conferences are being held online but in none of these has any one of them been invited. Congress is encouraging and bringing youths forward but all of them are non-Muslims. The outspoken chairman of Minority Cell, Nadeem Javed too seems to have been asked to keep a low profile. The manner in which he has revived the Congress minority cell and has introduced it to the community is not hidden from anyone.

Ever since M Afzal was given this role, not even once has he [been alleged to have] created controversy in any of the press conferences he has addressed. On news channels too he represents his party in a very calm and contained manner. But he is not being sent to participate in debates on prominent channels. He is appearing only on not so popular TV channels like the Swaraj. The same is the position of Naseer Hussain. The list of media panelists also includes the name of senior Congress leader and former MP Husain Dalwai. But he too is there as a token. If you believe the murmurs bussing in the community, they say that [as far as this aspect is concerned] BJP has done better than the Congress because it has given Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, Syed Zafar Ahmad more prominent roles.

Translated by Urdu Media Monitor from Inquilab, 7 June 2020.

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