Delhi Imam, Dalit leaders criticise Anna's campaign

Rent-seekers playing the politics of tokenism are targeting the movement against corruption led by Anna Hazare.

An array of political forces – from leaders of the Muslim community to Dalit leaders to jholawallas – is stepping out to criticise the atmospherics of Anna’s movement as well the Jan Lokpal Bill that Team Anna is campaigning for.

On Monday, the Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, criticised Team Anna’s campaign, saying that it had not done enough to involve Muslims in the anti-corruption movement.

 Delhi Imam, Dalit leaders criticise Annas campaign

The Delhi Imam and Dalit leaders are speaking out against Anna Hazare's campaign. Subhav Shukla / PTI

In particular, the Imam claimed that the slogans raised by leaders and supporters of Team Anna’s campaign - 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' - caused Muslims some disquiet. "Why not raise more inclusive slogans like Hindustan Zindabad or Jai Hind," he wondered.

Bukhari told PTI that while he believed it was important that corruption should be weeded out, it was equally important to tackle communalism by addressing the problems of Muslims. Communalism, he said, was a bigger threat than corruption.

Pointing out that Anna had earlier praised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Bukhari said: "(Anna) did not fast for even a day when Muslims were killed in Gujarat in 2002. We never heard from him when anti-Muslim riots happened in his home state's capital Mumbai. He could at least have made an effort to involve the community. We are hurt by this."

Anna, added Bukhari, “could at least have met some members or leaders of the minority community… . He could have also made references against communalism as part of his campaign to make it look more inclusive."

In this aspect, Bukhari said, Anna had much to learn from Mahatma Gandhi’s inclusive approach. "When Gandhi took up a cause, he made sure he included grievances of every Indian constituency. Only then did his campaigns take the shape of an unassailable national movement."

Asked if he felt that Muslims should not take active part in Hazare's anti-corruption movement, Bukhari said he had merely expressed his view and he could not stop the Muslims who were still participating in the campaign.

In any case, Bukhari said, corruption would not end in a day just by enacting legislation.

Late on Monday, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, core members of Team Anna, met Bukhari to clarify any misconception he may have about the movement against corruption.

Dalit leaders too

Dalit leaders too have criticised Anna Hazare’s campaign, arguing that its demand for sweeping structural changes in governance would have the effect of diluting the Constitution, which was drawn up by Dalit leader B.R. Ambedkar.

Udit Raj, head of the All-India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, said he would take out a rally at India Gate on Wednesday in support of his ‘Save the Constitution’ movement, reports  Hindustan Times.

The fight against corruption, Raj said, “should not undermine the Constitution drawn up by Dr Ambedkar. Why is there not a single representation from Dalits, or backwards or minorities in Team Anna?” he wondered.

Similarly, human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi criticised the 30 August deadline set by Team Anna for passage of the Lokpal Bill. “Bills and law-making are not two-minute noodles," Hashmi told Hindustan Times. “For anybody to say ‘accept the Jan Lokpal bill in 18 days flat’ is a violent statement.”

Updated Date: Aug 23, 2011 09:09:43 IST