Even in the Indira era, Muslim politics continued to heat up and their MPs were running an active campaign against Hindus.


Congress and some other political parties are expressing concern over the rise of religious or traditional Hindu-Muslim issues in some states and some sections of the media these days, have alleged that this trend has increased after coming to power of the BJP’s Narendra Modi government at the Centre. There was a ruckus on the streets over small things. When there is more tension and violence, governments, police, administration with political leaders, or overnight self-proclaimed religious leaders make the environment toxic by making mutual accusations. The general public is attached to their religious sentiments, but they do not want to see any kind of social tension and quarrels. There was a time when there was any communal tension or violence in a big city, town, or village, then sooner or later, the conscious social organizations and leaders of various political parties collectively went to the affected areas and localities and tried to establish peace. On important occasions, in the true sense, religious leaders, eminent Shankaracharya, Mahamandaleshwar, Imam-maulana, and pastors also issued appeals. Now due to modern media resources and social media, more than authorized politicians and alleged religious contractors unwittingly create false propaganda and controversy day and night. Whether there is a BJP government at the Centre or in the states or Congress or any other party, they are not able to control themselves or the controversial people. Incidents happen in any state. Despite being confined to a few states, Congress is still considered a national-level party. That is why Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders become more vocal and constantly accuse the BJP of dividing the society on disputes over Hindu- Muslim issues. Congress calls for secular principles. Rahul Gandhi’s new team may not be aware of the events of the last decades and the activities done by their leaders and many things will not be found by their Google search, but old veteran leaders and journalists can get their records. The talk of various radical leaders who remained in the Congress after independence or the Hindu Mahasabha, and Muslim League is also older, but the camps formed in the post-1981 Indira era have to be called the roots of the present problems.
In this context, I find it necessary to remind the Congress leaders of the activities of forming two big fronts of Muslim and Hindu. Then I was a political correspondent in the country’s leading news organization and had to keep in touch with the leaders of different parties as well. The talk is on September-October 1982. First, the Indira Congress Working Committee passed a resolution calling for a struggle against communal activities. In the resolution, the members of the party were asked to make every effort to create communal harmony and the government should also take the strictest action against the anti-national communal elements. Only two weeks later, in October, Congress’ own senior Member of Parliament, Asad Madani, called a meeting of Muslim MPs from various parties, including the Congress, at his residence. Four Muslim ministers of the Indira Gandhi government also attended this meeting. These ministers were Z.A. Ansari, Jafar Sharif, A. Rahim, and Arif Mohammad Khan. About fifty MPs accepted the feast of Asad Madani. In this meeting, the Muslim MPs decided that the Muslim society of the country is going through a serious crisis at this time and the Muslim MPs will have to deal with this situation together.
At that time, the number of Muslim MPs in the Parliament was about 65, out of which 42 were members of Lok Sabha and 23 were members of Rajya Sabha. From the party point of view, Indira Congress had 41, Lok Dal 6, National Conference 5, Muslim League 3, Marxist Communist Party 5, Janata Party, AIADMK, Congress (Antony), and one MP each from the People’s Party. Although Marxist Communist MPs were not in this meeting, the representative of the Left Front of West Bengal, Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Kalimuddin Sems attended. This Muslim front decided to put pressure on the government with anger over the Hindu supremacy in the police administration, and the high number of Muslims killed in the Meerut riots. Some MPs even urged a boycott of the next session of Parliament. The next round of this meeting took place at the residence of Janata Party MP Syed Shahabuddin. Later, a memorandum signed by 45 MPs was also given to Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi. It can be understood from this fact that even in the Indira era, Muslim politics continued to heat up and their MPs were running an active campaign against Hindus and organizations by playing a major role.
Even more interesting is the fact that some other Congress leaders organized a big conference of Hindu organizations and leaders on 7th November next month. This conference was organized in Patna. The role of senior Congress leaders Dr Karan Singh, Shankar Dayal Singh, Krishna Bahadur, MLA Tara Gupta, and Ranjit Bahadur Singh were prominent in this conference. At this conference, old Congressman and then senior Lok Dal leader Shyam Nandan Mishra, Congress (C) Phanindra Nath Tripathi, and Janata Party leaders attended. Though the Congress was opposed to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at that time, the intellectual head of the Sangh, Shri Sudarshan (later Sarsanghchalak) also joined other Hindu organizations in this conference dominated by Congress leaders. It was called Virat Hindu Sammelan. It was a huge event at the Gandhi Maidan in Patna. Dr Karan Singh and other Congress leaders had arrived by plane; I went for reporting. The most aggressive speech was that of Dr Karan Singh. At the conference, the threats to the interests of Hindus, their protection, opposition to religious conversion activities, and resolutions were passed. The magnitude of the conference can be estimated from the fact that one lakh food packets were brought and distributed from 15,000 families for this event. In this way, the process of Hindu- Muslim politics increased. Here, Khalistani terrorism started raising its head in Punjab. It is also a fact that some Congress leaders had pushed Bhindranwale to deal with Akali and other parties. Later, he started getting support from Pakistan. Military action took place when her base was built in the Golden Temple and then Mrs Gandhi was assassinated.
Two years later, Rajiv Gandhi’s overwhelming majority government, on the advice of Arun Nehru, tried to please Hindus by opening the doors of the temple in Ayodhya, to please Muslim leaders in the Shah Bano case. The Ayodhya dispute reached its peak during the reign of VP Singh and Narasimha Rao and the controversial structure was demolished. After this, riots and social divisions, and terrorism supported by Pakistan started increasing. Therefore, the assumption is wrong to an extent that the present era is the worst and is influenced by Hindu-Muslim politics. Responsible politicians and media should also not give air to unnecessary communal issues.
The author is editorial director of ITV Network India News and Dainik Aaj Samaj.