New Delhi : A day after he came face to face with the fears of a young Muslim boy in riot torn Muzaffarnagar, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi sought counsel at an interaction with representatives from the minority community to shape the party’s election manifesto. Gandhi narrated the ‘fear’ experience of the boy when he addressed this gathering and expressed a desire that ways should be found to end this malady.

Well, having ruled the country for the bulk of the years since independence isn’t the Congress itself responsible for this fear? This question evokes a diplomatic answer from the country’s minister for external affairs Salman Khurshid: “When you have fever, the solution lies in taking the medicine and having a good diet, and not worrying about what caused the fever in the first place.” So, the fear is there, and that is why the uprooted people in Muzaffarnagar are still in the camps and are not returning home.
“We would like to do everything to ensure that they go back to their homes, and without anything unprecedented happening. They should be able to weave back their social fabric,” he says.
Khurshid who briefed the media about the proceedings said that the suggestions from the participants covered the areas like education, employment, security and reservations. ”The unfinished agenda of the previous election is the communal harmony bill, but we are still hopeful that it will be tabled in the next session, the cabinet has cleared it,” he informed.
He said that the plight of the muslim youths who are languishing in jail for years after their arrest as suspect in terror related cases without any progress in the courts was also discussed at the interaction. “We have to do something even before the manifesto is put out, he said.’
He stoutly refused that any issue related to the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was
discussed in the context of the fear of the minorities. ” We are discussing issues and not personalities,” he said.
But he informed that a sikh representative had raised the issue of the members of this community
being driven out of the state of Gujarat although they had been engaged in farming over there for years. ”This is a government to government issue and we believe that no one should be driven out of any state on any grounds,” he said.
This was the second in a series of interactions that have been scheduled by the party to frame its election manifesto of the 2014 elections.

Anil Sharma

Free Press Journal