February 24, 2020
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"The Minorities Don't Want Rao"

C.K. Jaffer Sharief calls for aggressive secularism

"The Minorities Don't Want Rao"
Many Muslims hold Prime Minister Rao personally responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

It is wrong to hold him personally responsible when everybody knows it is the BJP, the Kalyan Singh government and the Shiv Sena who have taken credit for it. One can accuse him only of failing to protect the Masjid.

Why did you not resign immediately after the demolition?

I had sent in my resignation at that point in time. A number of respected senior people, including our ulemas and those who represent the minorities, prevailed upon me not to force it. I also felt that by pressing my resignation I would be doing injustice to the silent majority which believes in peace, communal harmony and brotherhood.

So you remained silent along with the silent majority?

No, I didn't remain silent. The impression I gained then was that my resignation could further enrage people.

Many people think more Muslims could vote for the Congress with someone other than Rao at the helm.

Just now, there was a group of people talking to me, who said exactly the same thing. The minorities perceive that he is responsible (for the demolition) and so they don't want him.

But is it a valid perception?

What opinion the minorities have, Mr Narasimha Rao is fully aware of. There is no need to say anything more.

What do you mean by "aggressive secularism" which you say the Congress has discarded?

It is the strong advocacy for secularism practised since the times of Pandit Nehru. Rao also believed in it, but soft spokenness doesn't send the correct message. It is not a question of appeasing minorities. When their confidence has been shaken due to an episode, you need people to speak aggressively about secularism. Which did not happen.

How can the Muslim's lost confi-dence be rebuilt?

There is no point in some minister or party leader going and speaking to them. It is the head of government who should speak. The effort to build confi-dence should come from Rao. There are no shortcuts.

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