At E Ahamed's death anniversary meeting, Opposition takes potshots at Narendra Modi govt over secularism and pluralism

New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday remembered former Union minister E Ahamed as a "defender of people" who was more an institution than a politician and a guiding light to him and others.

Paying rich tributes to Ahamed at a function at the Constitution Club in New Delhi, Gandhi recalled how hurt he had felt at the way the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader's family was treated at a government-run hospital here before he breathed his last after suffering a cardiac arrest last year.

"I remember, when I went to the hospital and I was with the family, the treatment that the family got, what they were made to feel...I really felt quite hurt about it. I felt it was very unfair, what was being done," he said.

The condolence meeting was organised by the IUML in the form a seminar, "Defending Democracy - Remembering E Ahamed".

Among others who attended the meeting were Congress leaders AK Antony and Shashi Tharoor and leaders of various parties, including D Raja of the CPI and Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference (NC).

Gandhi recalled how he had developed a friendship with Ahamed, who used to sit behind him in the Lok Sabha and who would tap him on the back to give him his views on important issues.

"In politics, you generally meet two types of people. There are those, for whom politics is all about themselves, about improving their image, the perception about them, everything is centred around them. And then there are those, for whom everything is about other people. I think, E Ahamedji was one of those people (in the second group)," he said.

Opposition leaders led by Congress president Rahul Gandhi attended the commemorative event on Monday. PTI

Opposition leaders led by Congress president Rahul Gandhi attended the commemorative event on Monday. PTI

Gandhi said whenever he spoke to him, the feeling he got was that Ahamed was a defender of the people of Kerala and India.

"In a sense, there are a few people in politics who are institutions, who go further than being just politicians. They occupy a bigger space, institutional space in the mind and I think E Ahamed ji was one of those people who transcended the word politician," Gandhi said, adding that the deceased leader had become a guide for younger politicians like him.

"That is how I view E Ahamed ji — as a guiding light, as somebody who we can look towards for inspiration," he said.

"My main memory about Ahamedji was about a person who listened, of a person who transcended as a personality and became an institution. That is how I remember him," he said.

Tharoor hailed Ahamed and said the values he left behind must be cherished. He alleged that it was the fundamental view of the BJP and its ideologue that the Constitution would reflect only the ideal of a Hindu Rashtra.

Ahamed, Tharoor said, was the "living repudiation" of the BJP's approach and that the late leader reminded the people that "both the saffron and the green" were part of the Indian flag.

"Let's hold onto this fundamentally important value. Because, if we don't appreciate what we have enjoyed, what we have taken for granted, we may lose it one day.

"As long as there are fighters like E Ahmed for the values that reflect our democracy and our pluralism, we will be safe. But we must never stop, we must never cease to fight," he added.

Remembering Ahamed, Antony said he presented the "correct image" of India abroad and was able to project the "shining part of secularism".

He added that Ahamed's contribution to the country and for the people of Kerala could not be forgotten.

There was high drama at the government-run Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital on 31 January last year when top Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi visited Ahamed and alleged that the IUML leader's family was not being allowed to meet him because of the government's "high-handedness".

Ahamed had suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed during the president's address at the joint sitting of Parliament and was rushed to the RML hospital. The budget was to be presented the next day.

Updated Date: Feb 06, 2018 12:49 PM

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