Congress has to be 'bold against all forms of communalism': Jairam Ramesh

Last Updated : 13 February 2020, 13:40 IST

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Worried over the "propaganda" that the Congress is soft on minority communalism in the country, senior leader Jairam Ramesh has said the party "cannot be selective" on the issue and suggested it should target Popular Front of India type of communalism also.

PFI or Jamaat-e-Islami type of communalism was as dangerous to India as "RSS type of communalism," he said, while echoing senior party leader and former Defence Minister A K Antony who had earlier said "we cannot be seen to be insensitive to the sentiments of the majority community."

In an interview to PTI, Ramesh also spoke on the controversial amended Citizenship Act and said it does not take away anyone's citizenship but was selective in providing one, to which he was opposed to.

Citing the Delhi Assembly election results and how the BJP utilised the Shaheen Bagh's anti-CAA protest to "polarise" votes, Ramesh said, "In the short run BJP has not won but the result is a disaster for the Congress party also."

"It is an unmitigated disaster like coronavirus for the Congress," the former union minister added.

Speaking on minority communalism, he said: "We have to be very clear. We should not be pandering to any religious sentiment of anybody and that is real secularism." "Real secularism is fighting communalism of all types with aggression," said Ramesh, who was here to participate in the ongoing Krithi International Book Fair, organised by a society controlled by the Kerala government. "We have to be bold and aggressive against all forms of communalism. Unfortunately in the public, the propaganda is that the Congress is soft on minority communalism. It is a reality.We have to address this issue. We cannot live in a make-believe world. We should wake up," the Rajya Sabha MP, also a key Congress strategist, said.

Noting that it was Antony who had said many years ago that the Congress party cannot be seen to be insensitive towards the majority's sentiments, Ramesh said his party colleague has said so repeatedly.

"He said it in Kerala, he said it in Delhi. I rarely agree with Mr Antony but on this I entirely agree with him," Ramesh noted.

Addressing an event in Kerala in 2014, Antony said some sections of society have an impression that the party was inclined to certain communities or organisations. "The Congress' policy is equal justice to everyone. But people have doubts whether that policy is being implemented or not. This doubt is created by the party's proximity towards minority communities and such a situation would open the door for the entry of communal forces into Kerala," he said.

Reiterating that the Congress has to fight "RSS type of communalism, BJP type of communalism as also PFI and Jamaat-e-Islami type of communalism," Ramesh said "we cannot be selective, we have to be upfront, bold and say minority communalism is as dangerous to India as (much as) majority communalism is."

"This is what Jawaharlal Nehru did. He took an uncompromising stand against all forms of communalism."

The Congress party should discover the same degree of aggression against minority communalism and outfits like PFI and Jamaat-e-Islami, he added.

"There are so many outfits like these in different states...they should be targeted the same way we target the RSS," Ramesh observed.

Asked whether there was a thinking in the Congress that communal outfits hijacked the anti-CAA agitation, Ramesh said it was a protest by some concerned people and they have genuine fears and concerns.

"Afterwards, I don't know what happened. Who hijacked it, I really don't know. But beyond a point of time, it has completely vitiated the political atmosphere. Because the CAA does not take away citizenship of anybody. It grants citizenship selectively," he said.

"Even though I am opposed to the CAA, I am the first to recognise that this CAA does not take away anybody's citizenship. It only grants citizenship selectively based on religion. It is what I am against," the Congress leader said.

Published 13 February 2020, 12:57 IST

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