Rahul says Muslim League completely secular, BJP lashes out

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s assertion that the Indian Union Muslim League is a completely secular party drew a sharp response from the BJP on Friday as its leaders alleged that the Kerala party is guided by the same mindset which was behind Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s All India Muslim League.

“These are the same people who had stayed back after partition. They formed the Muslim League here after partition and became MPs. They advocated for Sharia law, wanted separate seats reserved for Muslims. They are the same people who are part of the same Muslim League. It is Rahul Gandhi and the Congress that sees Hindu terrorism but feels Muslim League is secular,” Union minister Anurag Thakur said.

Thakur said it is imperative that the former Congress president speaks favourably of organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood, an extremist organisation banned in several countries, and the Muslim League as he has to contest against from Wayanad, a Muslim-majority seat, after losing from Amethi.

On a tour to the US, Gandhi told reporters in Washington that the Muslim League is a completely secular party and there is nothing non-secular about it. He was answering a question about his party’ alliance with the regional party.

BJP national spokesperson and MP Sudhanshu Trivedi claimed a link between the regional party and Jinnah’s outfit, which spearheaded the partition stir among Muslims. He noted that Jinnah’s party had swept the pre-Independence provincial polls in Madras presidency, of which today’s Kerala was then a part.

He told reporters that Malappuram district body had passed a proposal in 2013 to lower the marriage age bar for girls to 16 years from 18, as Muslims were in a majority in the area. The then Congress government, which included the Muslim League, in the state backtracked only after fierce protest from the opposition. For the Congress, parties like AIMIM, Muslim League and Indian Secular Front, a West Bengal party formed by a Muslim cleric, are secular and the PFI, a banned radical Islamic organisation, is a “cultural” body, he said.

Mocking Gandhi, the BJP leader said his claim raises a question mark on his wisdom.

Kerala BJP leader K J Alphons took a dig at Gandhi, saying he should be forgiven for such comments as his “intellectual capacity is limited”.

BJP I-T department head Amit Malviya said, “Jinnah’s Muslim League, the party responsible for India’s partition, on religious lines, according to Rahul Gandhi is a ‘secular’ party. Rahul Gandhi, though poorly read, is simply being disingenuous and sinister here. It is also his compulsion to remain acceptable in Wayanad.”