Congress President Rahul Gandhi has been advised by Muslim intellectuals to stay away from the topic of community and stick to development issues such as poverty and education. The advise came after Gandhi met with 12 Muslim intellectuals from diverse fields like literature, arts, history, industry etc., as a part of his efforts to reach out to the religious minority ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
"In the meeting, we advised Rahul Gandhi to not talk about the Muslim community in particular as it will give others an opportunity to polarise him as a leader. He should rather talk about poverty and education. If he does so it will affect 96 per cent Muslims like other Indians," historian S Irfan Habib told ANI after the meeting on Wednesday.
During the meeting, Rahul Gandhi was also advised to do a self introspection of the Congress party. He was urged to think about how "Congress worked in the era of 1970s, when it talked about inclusiveness and 'Sajha virasat'," Habib said.
Besides Habib, the meeting was also attended by senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid, writer Rakhshanda Jalil, industrialist Junaid Rehman, Nadeem Javed (Chairman,Congress Minority department, writer Farah Naqvi and muslim intellectual Iliash Malik among others.
"A number of lawyers, historians and university intellectuals today met Rahul Gandhi and discussed public policy with him. They gave their feedback to the leader of Opposition on the areas they are working in. Hope more such interactions will take place in future," Salman Khurshid said after the meeting.
However, nothing regarding to upcoming elections and personal law board for Muslim community among other political issues were discussed in the meeting, said Iliash Malik.
"We didn't talk about the personal law board as the matter is currently in court. We didn't come here to resolve an issue. Rahul Gandhi heard nicely whatever we advised to him. There are few problems of the minority community, which are especially about Muslims. So, it was our responsibility to meet political parties and tell them our problems. Since Congress is the biggest opposition party, that's why we met Rahul Gandhi as he is the President of the party," he said.
(With inputs from ANI)