Former minister and parliamentarian Arif Mohammad Khan, in an interview with HTN’s Karan Thapar, has slammed the narrative of ‘Muslims living in fear’ and ‘minorities under attack’ that is peddled so incessantly by the mainstream media and left-liberals.
In a 25 minute interview in Karan Thapar’s show Up Front, Khan exposed the hollow agenda of left liberals and so-called ‘intellectuals’ who have been peddling the narrative of ‘Muslims living in fear’.
Karan Thapar asked Khan whether he feels alarmed by the BJPs’ political hegemony, seeing that it had secured 303 seats on its own and holds over 350 seats along with its allies. Khan replied that the people of India have chosen the BJP and he does not have any problem with the people’s mandate.
Replying to Thapar’s question on whether there are alienation and communalism after the BJP’s ascension to power, Khan stated that only the people who never ‘look beyond their noses’ think so. Khan insisted that the roots of communalism and alienation took hold in the Shah Bano case and with the opening of the locks at Ayodhya. He stated that India is a huge country and the alienation that we see today are the result of the deeds done back in the 80s, under the Rajiv Gandhi government.
Thapar then tried to peddle the narrative of ‘Muslim representation’. He stated that the BJP does not have a single Muslim MP in the Lok Sabha. He also asked Khan whether the fact that the BJP did not even field a Muslim candidate in UP, that has a 20% Muslim population worries him as Muslim himself.
Khan replied that the mentality of ‘Lack of Muslim MPs’ is coming from a colonial mindset. The British, through constitutional measure and administrative policies, have ingrained the ideas that only a Muslim can represent a Muslim. He insisted that this idea of a separate electorate is the very idea that eventually led to India’s partition. Khan replied that an MP serves the entire constituency, not his/her community, as the constitution of India commands.
Replying to Thapar’s question whether he feels the BJP is prejudiced against the Muslims, Khan stated that the seeds of problem are within and it is not right to blame others for our own problems. Slamming Thapar’s insistence on the issue of the lack of ‘representation’ of Muslims, Khan asserted that in the constitution of India, there is no room for communal representation.
Thapar then stated that time and again, BJP’s MPs and ministers have been known to issue anti-Muslim statements and even Amit Shah refers to Bangladeshi immigrants as ‘termites’. He added that a BJP minister has once said Muslims should go to Pakistan. Arif Khan then replied firmly that a party decides its candidates on winnability, not communal representation. He also stated that the media’s obsession with publicising and fanning the so-called anti-Muslim statements of persons creates much more divide and fear than the statement itself.
Khan stated that if an elected representative makes a ‘wrong’ statement, it is for the people to judge and decide whether that candidate deserves to be elected or not, it is not for the media to decide.
Thapar then pointed out that there are millions and millions of Muslims who feel insecure and scared. Khan stated that he is a Muslim and he does not feel scared. Upon Thapar’s statement that he (Khan) is a well-off man and he is talking about the underprivileged Muslims. Khan asserted that the average Muslim living in India is not even aware of such a narrative.
Khan stated that 99% of the Muslims are not even aware of the statements and narratives peddled about them. He stated that the media peddles them because they are considered news-worthy. Khan added that there is a certain section among the Muslims that has always claimed to be ‘insecure’ and has stated that their communal identity is threatened. It was prevalent during partition and also during the Shah Bano issue. But the country needs to accept the people’s verdict and ignore the tiny section that is always going to claim insecurity and fear.
Thapar then asked Khan how does he feel about the PM’s speech that the government is looking for ‘Sabka Vishwas’ and the minorities in the country have been cheated by subsequent governments. Khan replied that the word ‘minority’ is not defined in the constitution as it is interpreted in the popular narrative. He added that he objects to being defined as a minority because being called a minority means accepting social inferiority and he is not ready to accept the status.
Khan then explained that for over 150 years, the British have drilled into our psyche that we are not a nation of common people but we are identified by our respective religions, communities and caste.
Thapar then questioned Khan whether the RSS and the BJP have been trying to establish that Indians have one identity that is the Hindu identity. Khan replied that the RSS and the BJP have always propagated the culture of Indian-ness, a single cultural and national identity.
Thapar then asked Khan whether the Prime Minister was contradicting himself in his speech when he called for ‘Sabka Vishwas’ and also said ‘Secularism has been exposed’. Thapar said that the PM has promoted Sadhvi Pragya, Niranjan Jyoti and Giriraj Singh.
Khan replied that if ‘secularism’ means reversing the Supreme Court’s judgement and denying a divorced Muslim woman the rights that are granted to every other divorced woman under law, then that ‘secularism’ needs to be exposed.
Thapar brought up the claim that despite what the PM spoke, it has been found that 51% of Hindus voted for the BJP while only 8% of Muslims, 11% Christians and Sikhs have voted for the BJP.
Khan replied that any exercise that identifies or categorises a person on the basis of religion is against the letter and spirit of the constitution. He insisted that despite having the history of experiencing a partition of the country on religious lines, some of us are still using the religious identity in political arguments. He asserted that communal identity leads to divisions in the country.
Thapar then asked how should a new government that has come to power with a huge political mandate treat its minorities. Khan replied that the nation should treat all its citizens as Indians, as equal, regardless of their religious identities. The duty of a government is to make a level playing field and not give any special treatment based on religion.
Thapar then alluded whether Khan is implying that the special provisions for Hajj pilgrims should be stopped. Arif Khan caught the net being laid for him and stated that he is making assumptions and trying to lead the discussions into the arrangements made for pilgrims for Kumbh. He stated that making arrangements are a completely different issue.
Khan stated that the constitution of India permits no entitlement on the basis of religion. He further stated that we have been misleading our people and deluding ourselves all these years in the name of secularism.
In his last question, Thapar asked Khan what would be his message to the millions of Muslims who are apprehensive now. Khan replied that he will not address to a certain community but he will address all Indians to be better citizens of India. He quoted from a speech of Maulana Azad and stated that nobody can drown us till we allow ourselves to be drowned. He asked the people of the country to embrace their Indian identity, not to be nervous and contribute to nation building together.