NEW DELHI: Eminent historian Syed Irfan Habib, who was among the Muslim intellectuals who met Congress chief Rahul Gandhi recently, is miffed that the BJP is using a fake media report to score political brownie points.
A controversy broke out an Urdu newspaper published a report stating Rahul told his guests on July 11 that the Congress was a Muslim party. On Friday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman slammed Rahul and accused the the Congress of trying to stoke communal passions.
"I am surprised as such a thing was neither said by any of the guests nor by Rahul Gandhi during the interaction," Prof Habib told TNIE.
"This controversy is politically motivated. It is a dangerous trend."
Recalling the two-hour interaction which Rahul had with select Muslim intellectuals, Prof Habib said he told the Congress president how the party came to power after the freedom struggle and continued to represent the poor and the marginalised till the 1980s before losing ground gradually to regional parties.
"I cited the examples of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where the Congress presence has reduced. These two states contributed significantly to PM Modi's victory in 2014," said Prof Habib. "Rahul agreed with my formulation."
On Saturday, former finance minister P Chidambaram took potshots at Sitharaman. "After taming Pakistan, eliminating terrorism, stopping infiltration and acquiring Rafale aircraft, the Defence Minister has all the time in the world to inquire into the religious affiliations of parties and persons! The Defence Minister says there are 'plans to incite riots in the run-up to Lok Sabha election'. She should share her secret (?) information with the Home Minister (sic)," he tweeted.
Senior Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed joined Chidambaram, saying that PM Modi was nervous as he feared losing the 2019 polls.
Picking holes in Sitharaman's arguments, Ahmed wondered why the Congress would say it catered only to 16 per cent of the population when it was a national player and always practiced inclusive politics. "The PM keeps talking about making India Congress-free but has not been even able to make his mind Congress-free."