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Cong has instilled fear of BJP, RSS among Muslims: Arif Baig

Congress has instilled fear of BJP, RSS among Muslims to get their votes -- Arif Baig

india Updated: Oct 24, 2003 17:38 IST
Shams Ur Rehman Alavi
Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Almost four decades of political innings in which he was twice elected to Lok Sabha on BJP ticket, Arif Baig remained with the BJP for most of the time. He recently left the Congress to return to BJP. He spoke to

Q. Why did you leave Congress just before the elections?

Arif Baig: I remained with BJP for 22 years before I joined the Congress. But, the Congress never used my potential during the 7 years I worked with the party. I was not even consulted when I was made general secretary and then I was removed without any reason.

Then I was told that I would be appointed as spokesperson of state congress but later I came to know that a seven-member panel was being formed of which I would be a mere member and Suresh Pachauri would head the panel. Pachauri is so junior to me that he was studying in school when I was a cabinet minister in the state. The treatment meted out to me by the party left me with no option. Also, Congress needs to democratize itself. When I joined Congress I thought the dynastic rule would end but it has again started with Sonia.

Q. Do you think Muslims will vote for BJP?

Arif Baig: Before partition, Muslim representation in government jobs was 40% that has gone down to 1.5% in the last five decades. Naturally, most of the blame for such worsening state of Muslims goes to Congress. The Congress instilled fear of BJP, RSS among the Muslims in order to get their votes. The Congress is to be blamed for the present state of the country and the backwardness of Muslims.

Q. Will the Muslims choose BJP even after Gujarat riots?

Arif Baig: Gujarat riots are in the centre stage these days but what about the riots in the past. The majority of riots occurred during the Congress rule.

Q. What role you see for yourself in the elections?

Arif Baig: My mission is unity among Hindus and Muslims. For the last 40 years I have been working for communal harmony. The Congress has brought the Hindu-Muslim relations to such a vulnerable point. The Babri Masjid was demolished when PV Narsimha Rao was the Prime Minister. Before him Rajiv Gandhi had started his campaign from Ayodhya. I have been working for bridging the gap between Hindus and Muslims. Soon you will find Muslims especially the youths joining the BJP in large numbers so as to end the mistrust. The Congress has been taking the Muslim support for granted and treating them as ‘bonded voters’. For 56 years Muslims voted cent percent for Congress but what they got in return—such gross under-representation in every sphere including jobs! Congress is responsible for the elimination of Urdu.

Q. What are the prospects of BJP in the election?

Arif Baig: Insha Allah, Digvijay Singh will have to take sanyas as he himself has avowed. I advise him to already start finding a suitable place for sanyas. The infrastructure in the state has collapsed in the ten years of his rule. See the condition of roads and shortage of power. The Chief Minister only travels by air, what has he to do with roads then? The BJP will fight elections not on sentiments but on development? In all the four states BJP will get resounding majority.

Q. The Muslims may not feel threatened of BJP but what about its relationship with VHP, RSS?

Arif Baig: The VHP and RSS are cultural organisations and have nothing to do with electoral politics. Singhal does not have to seek votes but BJP does need to do so for running the country. It is possible to run a party without Muslims but it’s just not possible for a party to run a country without 20 crore Muslims.

Q. Your son’s name is making the rounds for the Bhopal North constituency?

Arif Baig: Every citizen has a right to try for the party ticket. It is for the BJP to decide and any decision the party takes will be acceptable to us. However, if he gets the ticket we will promise a good result.

First Published: Oct 24, 2003 15:16 IST