India’s (now former) Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh surprised the whole of India when he resigned last month to look after his health and his family.
Even more astounding was his parting comment, as reported by Rediff.
“For an apology to Muslims, a Muslim Prime Minister is needed”, said Mr Singh, as he quit leadership of in his party.
The apology he was talking about was for the Indian government’s failure to stop the 1992 Babri Masque demolition. This led to the death of more than 2000 people in ensuing riots in many major Indian cities including Mumbai.
Religious tensions began rising again in India a year ago after the Mumbai terrorist attacks that left many members of India’s Muslim community terrified they would be blamed. Bollywood stars came out and joined India’s Muslim community in wearing black to condemn the attacks.
Not surprisingly, opinions on Amar Singh’s recent apology remain divided within and beyond India’s Muslim community. Like many others, I’ve been trying to make sense of the situation from the outside.
Making Things Fairer for India’s Muslims
The Muslim Media Network joins other news sources in considering the apology rhetorical. This is completely understandable given the deep losses suffered by India’s Muslim community during the riots and the fact it is widely acknowledged that many Indian Muslims live well below the poverty line.
Delving around in Amar Singh’s career, I found out that this Hindu politician has landed himself in hot water in the past, for defending India’s Muslims.
According to BBC News, in 2006, his remarks that Muslims “must have the first claim on resources” caused him quite a back draft. Singh urged chief ministers to recruit “more Muslims into the police and intelligence agencies” to help diminish a growing sense of insecurity within the community.
One can’t help feeling that perhaps his career was just doomed if he did or doomed if he didn’t.
What’s Next for Indian Politics?
Now thoroughly sick of politics, Amar Singh is campaigning vigorously for his colleague Abu Azmi’s son Farhan, who is contesting the Bhiwandi assembly by-election in Maharashtra. (Farhan Azmi is a hotelier who shot to fame when he married Bollywood heart throb Ayesha Takia).
Singh said he was campaigning despite poor health. “I came here from Dubai, not as a leader, not for politics, but for my son Farhan,” he told the public shortly after announcing his step down.
We can only hope that if Farhan does get into politics, he will be compassionate towards Islam’s 160.9 million Muslims, who represent the world’s largest Muslim-minority population.