Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) chief Syed Sadikali Shihab Thangal's recent remarks stating that the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya was a reality and that there is no need to protest against it have drawn criticism from within the community, especially from the Indian National League (INL), whose leadership has even asked Thangal to apologise for his remarks.
Thangal said, “A major development has taken place in our country. Ram Temple, which the majority community of the country had desired, has become a reality. The country cannot now go back. That was a necessity of the majority community in the country. We need not protest that the temple has come up in Ayodhya. In a pluralistic society, everybody has freedom to go ahead as per their faith.
“The Ram Temple and the Babri masjid, which is under construction following a court verdict, are best examples of secularism. We should imbibe that. Both are best symbols of secularism...."
The INL was formed in 1994 by Ebrahim Suleiman Sait, an IUML leader, who quit due to his opposition to the party's decision to continue its alliance with the Congress after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Today it is part of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF).
The INL is considered to be more hardline in its views and CPI(M) leaders like V S Achuthanandan are said to have seen the party as 'communal' and kept it out of the Front over two decades.
The IUML itself does not have a 'moderate' image, given that just last year, around 300 people, who were mostly members of the party's youth wing, were booked for raising provocative slogans saying that Hindus would be hanged and burnt in front of temples, during a march to show solidarity with Manipur.
It later organised a pro-Hamas rally in which a video of one of its leaders Khaled Mashal, was played.
What is surprising about Thangal's remarks is that some days earlier, he had stated in Kozhikode that the opening of the Ram Mandir and the celebrations were politically motivated and dangerous.
What explain Thangal's remarks, according to Kerala observers, is the fact that the Thangal family does not want Muslims to go extreme in their reaction and display natural affinity with the INL or the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). The latter is believed to be closely linked to the now-banned Islamist group Popular Front of India (PFI).
The INL and SDPI are also vying for a chunk of the Muslim-vote, which the IUML would not like to lose.
Another reason being talked about is that any strident criticism of the Mandir could potentially affect the prospects of the United Democratic Front (UDF) at the hustings and give the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) the proverbial stick to beat the Congress with, just like what happened in the case of Udhayanidhi Stalin's remarks on Sanatana Dharma.
However, the IUML appears not too bothered about the fate of the INDI alliance and mostly looks interested in getting one more seat allotted to itself in the Lok Sabha elections.
S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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