5:43 pm : 30.Oct.2014
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Narendra Modi Nawaz Sharif ModiNew Delhi, Oct 30, 2014 (Agency)

The Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid Thursday said he was inviting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but not Narendra Modi to mark his son's annointment as the Naib Imam, saying the Indian prime minister was yet to win the confidence of the country's Muslims.

 

Syed Ahmed Bukhari, however, said he had invited four Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, for the Nov 29 dinner to mark the occasion.

 

"We have invited the prime minister of Pakistan as we have had relations with him since my (late) father's time, unlike with Modi, whom we have not invited," Bukhari told IANS.

 

Ahmed Bukhari's son, 19-year-old Shaban, will be annointed the Naib Imam Nov 22.

 

"Modi has not done anything for Indian Muslims even after coming to power. Indian Muslims have not forgiven him for the 2002 Gujarat riots," the senior Bukhari said.

 

"Modi has not even apologized (for the riots) and reached out to Muslims. He is yet to win the confidence of Muslims."

 

Ahmed Bukhari said invitations for the dinner had also been extended to Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi.

 

The Bukharis, originally from Central Asia, have been the traditional custodians of the Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque, since it was built during the Mughal era in the 17th century, facing the Red Fort.

 

The late Abdullah Bukhari became politically influential after coming out openly against the Congress party following the Emergency rule of 1975-77. He was later courted by politicians of all hues.

 

The present Shahi Imam, Ahmed Bukhari, has courted controversies, mainly over some of his radical views.

Sonia Rahul Nat1New Delhi, Oct 30, 2014 (Agency)

Thirty years after it lost its charismatic leader Indira Gandhi to the bullets of assassins, the Congress appears a much weakened political force, appearing rudderless and leaderless, with defeats in election after election and reduced to almost a rump party with a highly shrunk presence in the national parliament and in power only in four states.

 

Analysts say the Grand Old Party needs to learn from Indira Gandhi's tactics, skills and style of leadership to meet the difficult political challenges ahead.

 

The Congress won a three-fourths majority in the Lok Sabha in 1984, the year Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her guards at her prime ministerial residence. The party has never won a majority on its own in the Lok Sabha since then, has witnessed the emergence of the BJP-led NDA as a national alternative and has had to accept the constraints of coalition politics.

 

Being led by Indira Gandhi's daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi since 1998, the Congress was able to dislodge the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) from power in 2004 and also win another mandate in 2009 to form a coalition government. However, the party registered its worst performance in the Lok Sabha polls this year, winning only 44 seats.

 

Political analysts say the present Congress leadership needs to learn from Indira Gandhi who was a decisive leader, never averse to taking risks.

 

Opines Mridula Mukherjee, professor, Centre for historical studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU): "Indira Gandhi was a strong, decisive leader and a hard-headed politician.

 

"Leadership means you have to be prepared to take risks. Unless you do things in a bold way, you cannot win (elections). The Congress certainly needs that," Mukherjee told IANS.

 

She said political leadership was not about doing everyday routine things but about dramatic and symbolic gestures.

 

"You need bold ideas. She (Indira Gandhi) rose from the ashes. She came back by picking up people's issues," Mukherjee said.

 

She said Indira Gandhi's revival after the 1977 election debacle started with her visit to Belchi in Bihar where Dalits had been massacred.

 

Referring to the recent communal clashes in Trilokpuri in East Delhi, Mukherjee said the top Congress leaders had not even visited the place.

 

"Trilokpuri is happening under your nose... Start becoming visible," she said.

 

Mukherjee added that Indira Gandhi gave a leftward turn to Indian politics and was not inherently authoritarian as she herself revoked the Emergency imposed in June 1975.

 

The JNU professor hoped that Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi will take some dramatic but meaningful steps to revive the party.

 

Indira Gandhi, who became prime minister at the age of 48 after the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966, faced many challenges in her political career from both within the party and outside. She is credited with the abolition of the princely privy purses, nationalisation of banks and providing a strong leadership during the 1971 war with Pakistan that led to the creation of Bangladesh.

 

However, her decision to impose internal emergency in 1975 following a court verdict unseating her drew widespread criticism.

 

Adds political commentator and senior journalist S. Nihal Singh that the peak of Indira Gandhi's achievement was the 1971 war and she was compared to Goddess Durga even by some of her opponents.

 

"The other aspect is imposition of Emergency. It is a mixed legacy," Nihal Singh said.

 

He said Indira Gandhi was a decisive leader and there was nostalgia for her following the dismal performance of the UPA-II government under Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.

 

"Judging by the performance of the UPA-II government, there is a measure of nostalgia for her not only in the Congress but among the general people also," Singh said.

 

Concurs Aswini K. Ray, a former professor of political science at JNU: Indira Gandhi revived the Congress from its internal problems and the present Congress leadership should learn from the way she connected with people, he said.

 

"She is a role model of populist politics. She was able to effectively communicate her message," he said.

 

According to political commentator and senior journalist Kuldip Nayar, Indira Gandhi's term would have gone down well if she had not imposed the Emergency.

 

Nayar said that Indira Gandhi was a determined leader who revived and restructured the Congress.

 

"One thing they (present Congress leadership) can learn is that she never gave in, doggedly pursued (her goals)," Nayar said.

 

Born on Nov 19, 1917, at Allahabad, Indira Gandhi was the daughter of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. She was prime minister (1966-77) and (1980-84). She was shot dead by two of her own Sikh security men Oct 31, 1984.

Hs Phoolka White SikNew Delhi, Oct 30, 2014 (Agency)

Like Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal who devoted his life to tracking down and prosecuting war criminals, senior advocate H.S. Phoolka says he will not give up in his fight for justice for the 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims. He says though three decades have elapsed "we have to prove the law of the land is supreme" to punish the guilty and hopes the Narendra Modi government will do its bit.

 

Phoolka, who has written to union Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanding a memorial for victims of the carnage in New Delhi, said that in the past 30 years "at each and every stage attempts were made to scuttle justice and shield the culprits".

 

"It is in the interest of the country that the issue needs to be taken to its logical end and the rule of law should be upheld... We will not give up, and pursue the cases with the same zeal as Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal," Phoolka, 59, who has been relentlessly battling for justice for victims of the anti-Sikh riots, told IANS in an interview.

 

The senior lawyer, who was himself chased by a mob during the riots following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi, says the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) when in opposition fully supported punishment for the riot guilty.

 

Over 3,000 people, mostly Sikhs, were killed in the riots in many parts of Delhi following the assassination of Indira Gandhi Oct 31, 1984 by two of her Sikh bodyguards in the aftermath of storming of the Golden Temple by the army to flush out Sikh militants hiding there.

 

He says the Akali Dal had raised the matter of a missing chargesheet against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in parliament and also held demonstrations. "They have been in power for the past five months but are yet to do anything about it," he added. The SAD is part of the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance central government.

 

Phoolka said the short-lived Arvind Kejriwal government of Delhi had constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to reopen and reinvestigate 237 cases which had been closed by police and never sent for trial. "After his resignation the SIT was stalled and remains stalled by the present government," said Phoolka.

 

He says he has written several times to Rajnath Singh on the case of reinstating the SIT and on the missing chargesheet against Sajjan Kumar, but "received no reply so far". He said he has also written to the SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal giving them a deadline of Nov 1 to act on the cases against Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler or face an agitation.

 

Phoolka said the cases against both the Congress leaders, who are accused of instigating mobs to attack Sikhs, should be taken up without delay. Many similar cases of the 2002 riots were reopened in Gujarat and had led to convictions, noted Phoolka.

 

He also said that under a prime minister's relief package, an amount of Rs.150 crore was still waiting to be distributed to the victims.

 

Asked if a memorial to the victims would not stir afresh the memories of the riots, Phoolka said: "Memories are bitter when you don't talk about them. We need to talk and talk so that the bitterness disappears, and it (the memorial) will be a sign that our sufferings are acknowledged."

 

Phoolka was 29 when he started visiting the relief camps for the victims of the anti-Sikh riots whose homes were burnt down. "Since then I have been part of each and every major battle, and fighting for justice for the victims."

 

Though 30 years have elapsed, "we need to prove that the law of land is supreme and irrespective of the time elapsed there are so many innocent citizens who died, but the law is not dead," Phoolka told IANS.

 

He said he is still in touch with the families of the victims. One of them, Satpal Kaur was 13, the eldest of four daughters, when a mob killed her father, mother, brother and uncle. Kaur became like a mother to her younger sisters. Today her son is studying Masters in Commerce, said Phoolka.

 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been scathing in its criticism of failure in bringing the culprits to book, which it said reflects the country's "weak efforts" to fight communal violence."Ten government-appointed commissions and committees have investigated the deadly attacks against thousands of Sikhs in 1984...Independent civil society inquiries found complicity by both police and leaders of Gandhi's Congress Party. Yet, three decades later, only 30 people, mostly low-ranking Congress Party supporters, have been convicted for the attacks that resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries," HRW said in a statement.

 

"No police officer has been convicted, and there were no prosecutions for rape, highlighting a comprehensive failure of the justice system," it said.

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