New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday met Muslim intellectuals as part of party’s initiative to reach out to various sections ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Those who met the Congress chief gave their valuable feedback on various issues and discussed “public policy” with him.
MS Farooqui, Amir Mohammad, Irfan Habib, Syeda Hameed, Ilyas Malik, Rakhshanda Jalil, Junaid Rehman, Farah Naqvi were among those who met the Gandhi scion at his residence.
Interestingly, during their meeting, the Muslim scholars advised Rahul not to talk about the Muslim community in particular and rather speak on issues like poverty and education on a whole.
“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 percent Muslims like other Indians,” historian S Irfan Habib was quoted.
During the meeting, Rahul Gandhi was also advised to do a ”self introspection of the Congress party” which has changed a lot in all these years.
He was urged to think about how “Congress worked in the era of 1970s when it talked about inclusiveness and ‘Sajha Virasat’,” Habib said.
The meeting was also attended by senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid and Nadeem Javed (Chairman, Congress Minority Cell).
“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 Opposition on the areas they are working in. Hope more such interactions will take place in future,” Salman Khurshid said after the meeting.
However, nothing regarding upcoming elections and personal law board for Muslim community among other political issues were discussed in the meeting, said Iliash Malik.
On Rahul Gandhi meeting selective intellectuals, Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi said: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is selective when he chooses to meet his corporate friends but refuses to meet the farmers who protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.”
“This is a wrong comparison but I would only want to say that the Congress believes in development for all, inclusion of all, and equality for all.
“Our doors are open for everybody. The intellectuals who would want to wish to meet him, he (Gandhi) would be happy to meet them, he meets ambassadors of all the countries, diplomats from across the world, she said.
“He meets corporate friends from across the country, he meets women, people from MSMEs, fishermen, farmers of this country. His meetings are for everyone. His meetings are regular. He also meets ‘Anganwadi’ workers. I think there is no one, he does not meet,” she added.