One day Rahul Gandhi will be PM: Salman Khurshid

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[Salman Khursheed is an erudite leader and prominent Muslim face of the Congress Party. He is a stalwart in Uttar Pradesh politics, and has always tried to bring disgruntled Muslims into the party fold. Khursheed believes that an alliance with the Samajwadi Party is crucial at this juncture to bring the party back into power. However, Muslims are still skeptical and refuse to support this alliance. Muslims have already made clear their intentions of resorting to tactical voting in future as well. Khursheed expressed his opinion in tete-a-tete with Nabeel A. Khan. Readers are invited to give their comments.]

[Pictures (1.) Salman Khursheed at his house; (2.) Salman Khursheed with Rahul Gandhi; (3.) Nabeel A. Khan]

Salman Khursheed is actively involved with the Congress Party since his debut in 1985. He particularly takes interests in minority affairs. He was a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from Farrukhabad constituency in Uttar Pradesh. He was also Minister of State for External Affairs from 1993-96. Being a prominent Muslim face in the party, Salman Khursheed always makes it a point to strive his level best in reconnecting the Muslim vote bank to Congress Party’s kitty. The efforts have become vigorous ever since Muslims abandoned the party after the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. But Muslims are still fearful and refuse to return to the Congress fold. Even Mr. Khursheed now resignedly says that Muslims are now leaning towards the Congress in Uttar Pradesh but would vote for it if the party was in a position to win. For this to happen, Mr. Khursheed believes that an electoral alliance with the Samajwadi Party is important and the need of the hour. “Muslims hold the trump card. The winner in Uttar Pradesh would be determined by which way the Muslim vote went,” declares an unassuming Khursheed.

Salman Khursheed may be right in holding his ground being a diehard Congressman. But the very idea of having an alliance with the Samajwadi Party sends the Muslim electorate into a tizzy. Samajwadi Party’s credentials have become doubtful vis-à-vis Muslim electorate. Samajwadi Party is itself currently into the state of that of the devil and deep blue sea while taking stance particularly on Muslim issues. During the party’s national convention at Kota in Rajasthan Samajwadi Party MP Akhilesh Yadav, also son of party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, had opposed the ban on SIMI – the organization that indulged in terrorist activities. On another occasion, Samajwadi Party published advertisements in newspapers just before elections in 1994 comparing Mulayam Singh Yadav to Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed. The advertisement said: “Jo log chaudah sau saal purane Karbala ke wakye ko nahi bhool payee, wo Mulayam Singh ki kurbaniyon ko kaise bhool sakte hain?” (How can Muslims, who cannot forget the sacrifice made in Karbala by Imam Hussain some 1,400 years ago, forget the sacrifices made by Mulayam Singh Yadav for the community?). This greatly infuriated the community raising questions over the professed love of erstwhile Maulana Mulayam for Muslims. In yet another instance Samajwadi Party MP Munnawar Hasan alleged that the Muslim MPs were offered Rs. 25 crore (US$6.5 million) by party General Secretary Amar Singh to vote for Indo-US Nuclear deal in 2008 and bail out the UPA government. “I will defy the party whip and vote against the UPA government on nuclear deal during the confidence vote on July 22. I have support of around seven party MPs. The deal is anti-Muslim and we are against it more so because it is being promoted by the US, which is an anti-Muslim country,” declared the rebel MP Munnawar Hasan. There are several other instances to expose the so-called socialist and secular credentials of Samajwadi Party. During the infamous Batla House encounter, it was Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh who announced Rs. 10 lakh compensation to slain police official Mr. Sharma’s wife. But the compensation instead turned out to be only of Rs. 1 lakh, which not only exposed what Samajwadi Party really stands for and how much respect it has for those who lay down their lives in national interest. After the insulted slain official’s wife refused the compensation amount, Amar Singh donated the amount of Rs. 10 lakh to Jamia students’ body to fight for the implicated students and to please Muslims to reap political dividends during Delhi assembly polls. This is how the Samajwadi Party showers its real love both on Hindus and Muslims alike. Doesn’t these actions of Samajwadi Party makes its position circumspect in the eyes of countrymen? Congress Party’s bonhomie with the Samajwadi Party after blowing hot and cold shows the dilemma in which both parties are in Uttar Pradesh. Before its association with Samajwadi Party, the Congress Party was friends with arch rival Bahujan Samaj Party.

Muslim votes kisi ki jageer nahin hai. Jo aage barh raha hai usi ko vote denge.” (Muslim votes are not somebody’s personal property. We shall vote for those who are ahead in the race.) These are some of the views of Muslim electorate echoed during previous elections. Tactical voting has now become keyword for Muslims in Uttar Pradesh as well as elsewhere in the country. A pitched battle is being fought amongst Congress Party, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party to bring Muslim votes into their respective party’s kitty in the state. But the Muslims have already made clear their intentions. Congress Party would do well to make extensive efforts to bring its erstwhile electorate into its fold. The party should shirk its habit of allying with smaller parties in order to regain its minority vote bank. The party should deliberate on hows and whys of the drift in its votebank threadbare, and Salman Khursheed knows this better.

My colleague Nabeel A. Khan from IANS interviewed Salman Khursheed a few days ago. Present below is the wide-ranging interview of Mr. Khursheed.Danish Ahmad Khan


One day Rahul Gandhi will be PM: Salman Khurshid
By Nabeel A. Khan

New Delhi, Jan 17 (IANS) It was "very obvious" that Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi would be India's prime minister one day, but for now Manmohan Singh remained the prime ministerial candidate, party leader Salman Khurshid has said.

In a wide-ranging interview here, Khurshid also said that Muslims were leaning towards the Congress in Uttar Pradesh but would vote for it only if they felt it was in a position to win, and so an electoral tie-up was needed with the Samajwadi Party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Khurshid, a former chief of the Uttar Pradesh Congress and a former minister of state for external affairs, was asked if Rahul Gandhi, son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, would be the next prime minister of the country.

"Rahul Gandhi is going to play a very major role in these elections," the Congress veteran told IANS, referring to the coming Lok Sabha elections.

"I think we have to let him make up his mind... He would make up his mind or his mother will decide for him. He doesn't seem to be in a hurry. He knows what he is doing and he is enjoying it.

"Yet, it is very obvious that one day he is going to be prime minister, I hope he becomes a very young PM, why not? I think it is very clear that he is amongst top leaders and it is also very clear that he strongly believes in a sense of propriety and democracy.

"Let the appropriate time come, he will be anointed or he would step forward to take (up) the responsibility," Khurshid said. "Right now he is trying to build the party. We should appreciate him for that."

So who is the Congress' prime ministerial candidate this time?

"I think we have a very good prime minister today and we have not been told that he is retiring," Khurshid said. "We have a prime minister, therefore we don't need a candidate. He is a highly respected man; he has steered us in a very difficult time."

Khurshid said the need of the hour in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, was a tie-up between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, which came together last year after years of bitter rivalry.

Arguing that people were inclined to vote along caste lines and that Muslims held the trump card, Khurshid said the winner in Uttar Pradesh would be determined by which way the Muslim vote went.
"So, in order to revive our fortune, we will have to understand the equation of caste along with the Muslim vote. I think this is a long process and cannot be done overnight.

"Muslims are undecided, but they are more with the Congress now than in the past 10 years. They would be willing to go along with the Congress, but they want to see a winnable position. They will vote for the Congress only if it wins. That's why an alliance with the Samajwadi Party is very important for us."

Khurshid insisted that a Congress-Samajwadi Party tie-up in Uttar Pradesh "will have a far-reaching impact on the fortune of both the parties... Moreover this alliance will not only impact the Congress but also (decide) what happens to the next (central) government and what happens to the country. I think both the parties understand this sense of responsibility".

"Having said that, I think this is not an easy proposition. We haven't worked with each other for years... It would be a very sad thing if we don't have an alliance."

Khurshid said he had no idea why film star Sanjay Dutt, sister of Congress MP Priya Dutt, had reportedly consented to fight the elections on the Samajwadi Party ticket from Lucknow. "It is his choice."

He said anyone contesting in Lucknow, now represented in parliament by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, would have to be high-profile. The Congress was considering some names, he added.

Khurshid said he disagreed with those who felt that aggression was good in politics.

"Everything is not an 'akhara'," he said. "People think politics is an akhara, but politics is not necessarily an akhara."

Indo-Asian News Service
[Published: 17 January 2009]

Posted by Unknown on 1/18/2009 12:10:00 AM. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

1 comments for "One day Rahul Gandhi will be PM: Salman Khurshid"

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