Salman Khurshid seems incorrigible.
And every time, surprisingly enough, he goes without any deprecation from his party (incidentally, the word Salman, in Arabic means ‘Safe’)!
The other day he was calling the former State Congress President and Chief Minister (for a short time) of UP, Jagadambika Pal, a greedy and fickle-minded person, after the veteran Rajput leader alleged Khurshid’s involvement in a widely reported Scam!
And now he is ridiculing the Indian Supreme Court and supposedly mocking the Election Commission!
It seems that he had hardly applied his mind before heaping derision on the Supreme Court and the Election Commission ahead of General Elections, in a foreign land.
Hardly a few days back, he had used utterly discreditable words against Narendra Modi and remained unapologetic.
The barbed word he used about Modi was uncalled for and in sheer bad taste. Later, he tried to give some etymological explanations, which hardly had any buyer!
Digs And Diatribes
A Farrukhabadi himself, Salman Khurshid, understandably thinks that he is one of the very few who have gone to Oxford and perhaps there are again, a very few, who can compare his unique calibre!
He was openly using barbs about R.K.Singh, the former Home Secretary, who joined BJP recently, “RK Singh was a classmate of mine. I never had a great impression about his intellect”.
He said to a TV Channel that by selecting R.K.Singh, as the Home Secretary, the Government made a mistake!
He simply ignored the fact that R.K Singh was chosen as the Home Secretary, by none other than P. Chidambaram, from a list of 30 probable. Singh was earlier Chosen by the Defence Minister A. K. Anthony as the Secretary of Defence Production, for his imposing record and ability. Reportedly Anthony was even seeking to elevate him as the next Defence Secretary.
Singh shot into limelight as a young Additional DM, by ordering Advani’s arrest on October 23, 1990 during Rathyatra, at Samastipur. A turnaround event, which the then Bihar CM Lalu Yadav still boasts about! The Same Advani however selected Singh to work as the Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry under him, for entire five years, 1999-2004!
Nitish Kumar invited Singh to his home State, after retirement, as the CM’s advisor, giving him a Cabinet Rank, which he declined.
So, it’s Khurshid’s natural habit of demeaning anyone and everyone, even venerated institutions, commenting quite arbitrarily, without doing the required homework before.
It’s partly because, the privacy law is not that developed an idea here in India, and mostly no one ever hits back, or just ignores him!
In 2012, the Hindi News Channel Aaj Tak aired a story, Operation Dhritrashtra, alleging that the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust run by the Khurshid and his wife was involved in cases of financial misappropriation and forgery. Reportedly a CAG report was cited as the proof. Khursids however later sued the TV Channel.
Arvind Kejriwal was with ‘India Against Corruption’ (IAC) then. In a Press Conference, he raised the issue and presented some people listed in the Trust’s list, who claimed they had never received any help from the Trust. Kejriwal also declared that he would take the fight to the Minister’s home borough Farrukhabad.
Finding in a corner, Khurshid lost his cool and remarked, “I have been made the law minister and asked to work with the pen. I will work with the pen but also with blood…. Let him come to Farrukhabad, but how will he go back?”
The footage was aired across TV channels.
The threat was palpable, but when the cadres of ‘Bharatiya Kissan Union’ (Tikait), arrived in hordes with their big bamboo sticks in hand, in support of IAC members, Khurshid and his supporters just looked the other way, while IAC held their meetings in Farrukhabad!
The Quota Quagmire!
Salman Khurshid was made the UP Congress President twice, in recent times, most evidently to placate the State’s politically polarised Muslim population in Congress’s favour. In the State, a sizeable 18 per cent of the electorate is Muslim. But he could not help the party in any way, either. Last time, his wife lost the Constituency badly and left at sixth position!
While campaigning for his wife Louise Khurshid, in Farrukhabad Assembly constituency, Mr Khurshid became highly enthusiastic to gain support and said that if elected, the Congress would set aside a 9% sub-quota for UP government jobs for backward Muslims. This would be carved out of existing 27% reservation for Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in UP!
The UP State Election Commission served a notice.
“Model Code of Conduct for the Guidance of Political Parties and Candidates”. Para 1(3) says that: “There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes.”
Khurshid was then the Union Law Minister. He just asserted that he would stick to his stand and said, “… is a notice, not an order to shoot at someone.”
But ultimately he had to backtrack and regret over his comments when the Election Commission remained unyielding.
Around the same time, while addressing a predominantly Muslim crowd, Mr Khurshid narrated, how his Party President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, “wept when she saw pictures of the Batla House encounter!” The Party hurriedly distanced itself from the comment.
The Man And His Assignments
In the post Emergency years, Salman Khurshid joined the PMO of Indira Gandhi as an OSD. That was the beginning of his political career.
He won the first Parliamentary election in 1991 from Farrukhabad, which has nearly 32% Muslim Voters. He enrolled at the Supreme Court bar in 1997.
In 2006, Salman Khurshid represented in the court as the Lawyer for the banned terrorist organization Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) – which is considered as the predecessor of Indian Mujahedeen (IM).
According to intelligence sources, SIMI had been involved in major terrorist activities across India.
Khurshid’s replied to a query that: “It is my constitutional duty. A party and the government too cannot pre-judge an organisation.”
He was then the President of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee.
The Supreme Court however rejected the appeal. The rest is history.
It’s now proved beyond doubt that SIMI was not just a “Cultural Organisation”!
He took over on May 2009 as the Union Minister of the Corporate and Minority Affairs. In the Cabinet reshuffle of 12 July 2011, he was made the Union Cabinet Minister for Law and Justice, and Minority Affairs.
Incidentally, the Ministry of Minority Affairs, was created in 2006 as apex body for the Union Government’s regulatory and developmental programmes for the minority communities in India, that include Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and the Jains. It also includes the Linguistic minorities.
But the Ministry’s main focus seems to be India’s Muslim Population, developing Islamic endowments, developing an Islamic banking sector in the future , maintaining Maulana Azad Education Foundation, with predominantly Muslim Members. Among the Present Minister Rehman Khan’s major initiatives was the beginning of Special Courts for Speedy Trial Of the Terror Suspects!
The Enemy Property Dispute
After 1965 war with Pakistan the Enemy Property Act came into being in India and the Indian Government took over the properties of those who migrated to Pakistan. In 2010 the act became the eye of a political storm, when the Government wanted to amend it.
Raja Mohammed Ahmad Khan of erstwhile Mahmudabad, who had migrated to Pakistan after partition, won in the Supreme Court a long disputed case over his property worth millions. The Union Home Ministry in July 2010 brought an ordinance, barring all such inheritors from going to the Court to reclaim Enemy Properties.
The Government later put a Bill to replace an Ordinance and it was scheduled to be tabled in Lok Sabha on August 4, 2010.
The Bill was then withdrawn by the Government, reportedly after the Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid led a team of Muslim leaders to meet Prime Minister and argued against it.
Incidentally, Salman Khurshid was the lawyer of the Raja of Mahmoudabad, Mohammed Ahmed Khan, who would have been a prime beneficiary of such an abrupt Government action!
The Raja’s father became a citizen of Pakistan and died in London in 1973. “At the time of his death, he was Pakistan’s Ambassador-at-Large,” reports said.
The Government then brought an Amendment Bill.
In 2011, it had been unanimously rejected by Parliament’s Standing Committee on Home Affairs.
The members felt that the bill be reverted to its “original” form as in an ordinance promulgated in July, 2010, which was later allowed to lapse following the alleged opposition of sections of Muslim law makers, prominently by Salman Khurshid.
The Change of Foreign Minister
When the Foreign Minister SM Krishna resigned on 26 October 2012, before a Cabinet reshuffle, he just said, “It is necessary for people like me to make way for the younger generation.”
There was expectation that Rahul Gandhi might take up the Foreign Ministry. The other three names speculated upon were of the then Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and the Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.
Khurshid’s name was nowhere in any supposition.
But, a lot of things were happening in the Foreign Relations scene.
Around the midnight on February 18, 2007, there were massive bomb blasts in the Delhi-Lahore Samjhauta Express, killing 68 people. Most were Pakistani civilians, who boarded the train.
Investing agencies and even US sources suspected it was a LeT act.
In 2008, there were major Blasts in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi and the biggest Terrorist attack in Mumbai on 26 November 2008.
In 2011 too, there were two major Bomb Blasts in Mumbai and Delhi.
Most of the Blasts were speculated as conducted by Pak inspired terrorist organisations in India.
But 2010 onwards a selected part Indian News Media started publishing stories claiming that they were having in possession, so and such number of ‘leaked tapes’ which implied the involvements of : Hindu organisations, in many such Indian Blasts.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) created in 2008, as the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency in India, then came out with a ‘Confession’ of one Swami Aseemanand (Which the Swami claimed that was extracted under duress) admitting his and various other Hindu activists’ involvement in Samjhauta Blast! This was later added with other Blasts!
The above mentioned publications simultaneously and continuously came out with more ‘Leaked Tapes’ allegedly involving the ‘Hindu’ organisations!
Pakistan Foreign Ministry and Pakistan Interior Ministry took notice and took up the opportunity. They started claiming that India was so far wrongly accusing Pakistan for all the Terrorist acts! There were even talks of taking the issue by Pakistan to international fora, including the SAARC meet.
The prime domestic Indian investigation wing became arguably active in a Gujarat related case of encounter killing, allegedly exonerating some suspected extremists and clash between different intelligent organisations became imminent. This gave much relief and fillip to Pakistan’s intelligence organisations!
India already had a Minister of State for External Affairs from Indian Union Muslim League. But even this was not seemed sufficient to prove India’s hard core secular image to the world!
In the reshuffle, Salman Khurshid was appointed the External Affairs Minister, surprising many political observers.
Rabble Rouser Or A Brown-noser!
Undoubtedly It was real a big leap for Salman Khurshid to be head one of the four high profile Ministries: Namely Home, Finance, Foreign and Defence!
Political observers said that it was primarily because his axiomatic: “Feel – good about dynasty “factor.
In 1992, when Jamia Millia Islamia was leading an agitation, protesting the then Pro Vice-Chancellor Mushirul Hasan’s suggestion to withdraw the ban on Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.
Khurshid was then the Deputy in the Commerce Ministry, in the P.V. Narasimha Rao Government. He suddenly started siding with the violent protesters.
The leader of the agitation, Badruddin Qureshi, President of the Students’ Union, was asking for Hasan’s immediate removal. “We will not allow the University to reopen till our demands are met.”
Reportedly, the vicious call was made during a meeting at which Salman Khurshid was present.
What’s more, Jamia Student Union Vice-President, Saeed Khan, had by then issued a ‘death sentence’ against Mushirul Hasan!
And what about Narasimha Rao?
Khurshid in his usual manner sings paean for the Gandhi family.
“I never thought of him (Rao) as a leader and as a Prime Minister. It took a while to get accustomed to his style of functioning.” Promptly he added that, he was in “constant touch” with Sonia Gandhi.
Only in the last year, Khurshid came with this nugget: that, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi is not just Rahul’s mother but mother to all Indians!
He himself can even sacrifice his life for Sonia Gandhi (“Mai Soniaji ke liye jaan bhi de sakta hu.”)!
So, with all the blessings, once being saddled in the coveted South Block, Khurshid promptly backed Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s controversial reference of “Hindu terror”, saying that it was based “entirely on facts” made available by the investigative agencies.
Shinde however later issued a regret statement in the Parliament.
Khurshid remained rather ambiguous, via habitual rigmarole!
Now, if Salman Khurshid says something against any politician, or any institution, knowing well that it is not ‘politically correct’, psychologically speaking, it’s shows his Freudian slip, which obviously underlines his political career and aspiration.