Notably, it appears that the Congress party is overtly active in some states but very regressive and fades away in others.
Recently, Assam Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed was suspended for ‘repeatedly violating’ party protocol and the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee suspended him.
The suspension comes a day after he was sent to two-day police custody by the court. Ahmed was arrested from his official residence for allegedly making provocative remarks in reference to the recent eviction drive in Darrang district and while reacting to the eviction drive in Dholpur area, Ahmed told the media that the eight people who were killed by suspected Bangladeshi immigrants in the Dholpur area in 1983 during Assam agitation, were not martyrs, but ghatok (killers).
Due to this, there were about 28 FIRs lodged against him at different police stations as he supposedly hurt community sentiments, and several organizations, including the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), have filed complaints against the legislator for his remarks.
In fact, Assam’s ruling alliance partner, Asom Gana Parishad, born out of the Assam agitation, had organized protests at various places, including Dibrugarh, Barpeta, Mangaldoi, Dhemaji, Tezpur, Biswanath, Nalbari, Bongaigaon, Majuli, and Morigaon, and burnt effigies of the Congress MLA.
It appeared that Congress, in order to appease the public sentiments of the people sacked Ahmed without a second thought.
The crux of the matter is Congress has failed to protect the minorities over the decades and we see surging violence against Muslims, Christians, Dalits, and others which actually stems from a history of some Congress party members being stooges of the right-wing groups and not defenders of the minorities.
In the past, minorities traditionally voted for Congress, however, over time, regional parties moved rose up with greater promises and voters swayed their support from Congress to local. While Congress did build up a political fortress in a kind of way to protect minorities, it was the Sachar Committee Report which, for the first time, pulled down the wall of trust towards the Congress with a revelation that minorities, especially Muslims, have been deceived for decades.
The minorities opened their eyes to realize ‘nothing concrete had been done’ for them. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that Muslims had been cheated in the name of secularism.
Afroz Alam, associate professor and head of the Department of Political Science at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) says, “There has been a paradigm shift in the electoral chemistry between Muslim voters and Congress. Over the years, an enormous number of Muslim voters have moved away from Congress and fragmented their loyalties in favour of non-Congress, non-BJP regional political options. There is a growing realization that the fundamental difference between Congress and BJP is blurring. Congress is shunning its centrist image. The party is trying to appeal to the Hindu core votes by not only cultivating its soft-Hindutva image but also by sidelining Muslims as a taken-for-granted junior partner.”
Activist, John Dayal, who also represents many National Christian Forums says, “Over the years, no single party has stood the test of the time as a protector of minorities. Every political party, when in power, has created laws that negatively impact minorities. For Muslims and Christians, the political spectrum extends from the Congress on the one hand to regional parties in UP, Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, and the rest of South India. They look to the Left if they want to keep the BJP out, or at least in a reduced margin in Parliament and state legislatures.”
Dayal also said, “The Congress has had a terrible past since the 1970s with the Emergency, the Sikh issue, the Babri issue, and the laws against the Christians have worked to expose it as a soft-Hindutva party. But when compared to the BJP and the RSS, the minority voter is left with choosing the winning candidate from the Congress and the other non-BJP parties. There seems to be no other choice.”
Over the decades, most minorities feel that in order to defeat BJP at a national level, they need to support Congress wholeheartedly without dividing its votes among other parties. However, after voting for Congress, many Muslims suddenly felt betrayed. There have been many Muslim journalists in jail for speaking the truth with a very little effort done by Congress to get them released, draconian laws passed in Parliament in the presence of the Grand Old Party who did little to stop it, and there is lynching and violence on the streets that the Congress is unable to hold the BJP accountable
The recent sacking of Sherman Ahmed seemed hasty and harsh stepped up with zero tolerance for a Muslim leader with an eye on appeasement for votes. The present politics in Assam and India has an anti-Muslim pitch and the removal of MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed by Congress only amplified this.
The brutal eviction drive in Assam in a village with mostly Muslim dwellers that killed two people including a child has left the Assamese Muslims reeling back in numbed shock, fear, and insecurity. There were over 1300 families left homeless in the draconian eviction drive.
In these horrific events amid the eviction drive and brutal events in Assam, there were no visits from top Congress leaders, let alone local leaders, neither visiting the vicinity of the eviction nor consoling the families of the dead. However, presently, glaringly in the limelight grabbing attention are Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rahul Gandhi, and the other party members scrambling to Uttar Pradesh after the killing of farmers and civilians. While this event too was gruesome where both incidents fueled violence and loss of lives it appeared that Congress adopts a method of selectiveness in politics, and once again, perhaps due to the Assam eviction involving Muslims, the Congress was treading around gingerly and avoiding the area.
With selective seclusion, Congress seems to be losing its significance and many voters desperately want a new party as Congress is no longer in the offing for them and while waiting, fingers are drumming, what next, who next? Indian politics presently is reminiscent of a sinking ship.
In the recent past, India has seen two horrific incidents of the brutal killing of humans. One in Assam and one in Uttar Pradesh.