NEW DELHI: The Congress Saturday expressed surprise that the government was celebrating the invitation to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for the OIC's inaugural plenary, dubbing it a "misplaced euphoria" and a "futile exercise" to mislead the people of India.
Senior party spokesperson Anand Sharma asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swaraj to respect the past position of India of not attending meetings of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) till it is accepted as a full member, given its large Muslim population.
"I am surprised at the government celebrating the invitation to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to address the OIC meeting in UAE. The euphoria is misplaced and it is a futile exercise to mislead the public opinion in India," he said.
Congress' Anand Sharma: Thereafter, India has refused any invitation to go, particularly the observer status. India has maintained that being the original invitee & a country with a very large Muslim population, it's important that OIC grants India full status member. pic.twitter.com/hMEX8ajBVt— ANI (@ANI) February 23, 2019
Sharma, who was the minister of state of external affairs in the UPA government, said that in the past India has always taken a firm position with respect to its engagement with the OIC, a powerful grouping of Muslim majority nations.
"India has rejected the OIC's offer for observer status and made it clear that given the size of its Muslim population, the OIC must give India the status of a full member to facilitate the Indian State's engagement with the OIC," he said.
"We would advise the prime minister and the external affairs minister to respect the past position of India and go for the OIC meeting only when India is accepted as a full member," he said.
In a significant move, India has been invited to the inaugural plenary of the foreign ministers' conclave of the OIC and Swaraj will attend it in Abu Dhabi from March 1 to 2 as the 'guest of honour'.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called the invitation a "welcome recognition" of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India's contribution to the Islamic world.
Official sources said it was for the first time, India has been invited to an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as guest of honour.