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‘Liberal’ Salafism, UCC being ‘election propaganda’, ‘not letting secular votes get divided’: Shashi Tharoor playing with fire to become Kerala CM?

It appears evident that Shashi Tharoor is playing with fire and emboldening, even whitewashing, the most extreme elements of the Muslim society in his bid to become the Congress' CM face in Kerala.

Shashi Tharoor has been busy meeting several religious leaders in Kerala recently and is now getting wider support from the Muslim community after his recent meetings. On the 14th of January, Shashi Tharoor tweeted about his meeting with leaders of the “liberal” Salafi organisation Nadvathul Mujahideen.

“Along with my LokSabha colleague @mkraghavaninc, called on TP AbdullaKoya Madani, chief of the Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen, a liberal Salafi organisation, & his senior team. Our warm welcome included a book on the Kerala Muslim Renaissance, in last pic”, he tweeted.

In another tweet, Shashi Tharoor spoke about meeting Sayyid Muhammed Jifri Muthukkoya Thangal, President of the Samastha Kerala Jem’iyyathul Ulema, a major body of Sunni scholars.

Shashi Tharoor has, rather openly, voiced his wishes to become to Chief Minister of Kerala, ruffling feathers within the Congress ranks in the state. AICC General Secretary has taken strong opposition to Shashi Tharoor saying he would be willing to become the Kerala CM. KC Venugopal said, “Congress is the most democratic party. Series of meetings happen in the party every month. Leaders can raise any issues in meetings and have discussions. All leaders have the responsibility to ensure that open debates do not spoil the dreams of party workers to come back to power”.

While Shashi Tharoor has maintained that he was only responding to queries by journalists and since the assembly election is far away, there is no point of such a discussion at this point of time, it is clear that Tharoor is trying to consolidate his base in the state by reaching out to specifically the Muslim population of the state.

On Friday, after Tharoor’s meeting with the “sunni scholar”, Samastha president Jifri Muthukoya Thangal hailed Tharoor saying that he is the leader who is trying to achieve a cordial relationship with the Muslim community, something which has been ignored by other leaders in the state of Kerala. He said that Tharoor’s endeavours would strengthen Congress.

“Tharoor possesses the wisdom of understanding the world well. People like him are global citizens. Tharoor has been making interventions to bring Congress back to the mainstream politics”, he said after his meeting with the Congress leader.

While Tharoor is trying to win brownie points in Kerala with the Muslim community, what is far more concerning is what this “liberal” politician seems to have endorsed during this endeavour.

Meeting leaders of Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen (KNM) at the Mujahid Centre, Tharoor told them that the renaissance movement in Kerala is an example for all communities. He hailed the renaissance efforts of the Mujahid movement and opined that effective steps should be taken to counter the efforts to divide people communally, according to a report by The New Indian Express.

Interestingly, what Shashi Tharoor seems to have hailed is the further Islamisation of the Muslims of Kerala. The Mujahid renaissance movement propagated against Sufism, calling it corrupt, polytheism etc, and called for the revival of true Islamic practices in the Muslim community in Kerala. The Mujahids consider themselves proponents of authentic Islamic reform. They believe in the principle of Tawhid, which refers to the belief that there is no God other than Allah and that Muhammad was his Prophet.

While hailing this effort which is a campaign against every religion other than Islam, one wonders how Shashi Tharoor wanted these very Islamic scholars to counter “efforts to divide people communally”.

Interestingly, KNM Markazudawa leaders also raised concerns with Shashi Tharoor about the BJP government contemplating the implementation of Uniform Civil Code and said that all “secular” parties must stand with the Muslims and their organisations in oppositing this movie. Dangerously, Shashi Tharoor seems to have voiced his opinion against UCC and said that the intention to implement UCC was merely an “election propaganda” by the government.

Speaking at Wisdom Islamic Organisation (WIO), Tharoor further urged that “secular” votes must not be split across states.

Interstingly, in his tweets, Tharoor, in his desperation to get the Muslim support perhaps for his own Chief Ministerial ambitions, also made the oxymoronic claim that he met “liberal” Salafi leaders. It is pertinent to note that there is no “liberal” version of Salafism. Salafism itself means the return to the most pure form of Islam ordained by Prophet Muhammad himself. Salafism is a extremely traditional and restrictive movement. In fact, Salafism also endorses the full implementation of Sharia (Islamic law). It is therefore inexplicable what Shashi Tharoor means by “liberal” Salafism.

It appears evident that Shashi Tharoor is playing with fire and emboldening, even whitewashing, the most extreme elements of the Muslim society in his bid to become the Congress’ CM face in Kerala. What is far more concerning is that he is attempting to rewrite established knowledge about Salafism and the Mujahid movement to paint it as “liberal” reformative campaigns, which they were certainly not. In all, from his recent interaction, it would appear that Shashi Tharoor has ended up endorsing the implementation of Sharia and his opposition to the Uniform Civil Code.

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