Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta
Mohammad Khan has had an eventful political journey. After kicking off his
political career in 1997 as an MLA candidate from Charan Singh’s Bharatiya
Kranti Dal, then making pit stops as a minister in the Rajiv Gandhi-led
Congress government and later as a Janata Party lieutenant under V.P. Singh’s
leadership, and later joining and then leaving the Bharatiya Janata Party, he
has now been designated as the governor of Kerala under the Narendra Modi
September 1, the erudite Khan, throughout an aggressive critic of Islamic
fundamentalism, was appointed as the governor of Kerala – a state which the
Bharatiya Janata Party desperately wants to get hold of. Remember, Union home
minister Amit Shah had alerted his party cadres not to get complacent before
they wrest Kerala and West Bengal – two of the most politically-conscious
states which have mounted the strongest resistance to the nationwide saffron
surge in recent times – from the opposition.
to him, BJP’s “golden era” will dawn only when the saffron party clinches these
the BJP-led Union government has entrusted Khan with leading its political and
governmental struggle in Kerala. Khan stood out in the list of people who were
made governors in the latest round of appointments on Sunday. All the other
leaders who were chosen belong to the saffron camp. Kalraj Mishra, governor of
Himachal Pradesh, was shifted to politically-influential Rajasthan, while
senior party leaders Tamilisai Soundararajan, Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Bandaru
Dattatreya were given the responsibilities of Telangana, Maharashtra and
Himachal Pradesh, respectively.
joined the BJP in 2004, only to resign from it in 2007 when he claimed he was
ignored by the saffron party. He contested as a BJP Lok Sabha candidate in
2004, but lost.
that history, Khan is technically the only outsider to secure a gubernatorial
position in this round of appointments.
many analysts, this is a win-win situation for both Khan and the BJP.
has been staunch nationalist and a devoted secular, who is well-versed in
religious and historical texts. He has consistently attacked conservative
trends within Islam, called for greater social reform in the Muslim community
and has taken principled stances against Islamic fundamentalism, sometimes even
at the cost of his political career.
can forget the way he defied the Congress party’s official line to defend the
1986 Supreme Court judgement in the Shah Bano case, which ruled that a victim
of triple talaq should be given alimony by the family of her former spouse?
Considered by many as one of the favourites of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi,
Khan, then a Union minister, broke away from Congress ranks when his party
brought in the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Bill to nullify
the apex court’s judgement.
Rajiv Gandhi government, with its absolute majority, caved in to pressures from
the Muslim orthodoxy but Khan did not. He supported the nationwide agitation
led by progressive women’s groups against the government, and stood in support
of Shah Bano who had sought alimony from her former husband.
joined the Janata Dal, but remained an outsider there too. It is alleged that
the other rebel Congress leader who had become the face of Janata Dal, V.P.
Singh, too tactically kept him out of the action in the campaign, fearing an
orthodox backlash from Muslim leaders. Singh went on to win the election from
Allahabad and become India’s seventh prime minister in the National Front
then, Khan has mostly been out of active political life. His interventions
surfaced again in recent years, when he supported the Modi government’s move to
criminalise instant triple talaq. Khan has always been an advocate of punishing
men who divorce their wives through the regressive practice with imprisonment
of up to three years.
then on, most of his interventions have been supportive of the Union
government’s decision. He has favoured an aggressive approach towards Pakistan,
and has criticised those who want bilateral conversations to continue. He
firmly believes the Army is the real establishment in Pakistan and that it
would never allow friendly relations with a secular India. He has also been a
loud critic of global advances of Islamism.
recent times, he has wholeheartedly agreed with the government on the issue of
Article 370, and has in fact commended the BJP-led government’s move to revoke
Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
the same time, he has maintained a conspicuous silence on growing Hindutva
fundamentalism in the country.
the BJP, there can be no one better than Khan at present to fit the bill.
Despite its trajectory of Hindutva politics and anti-Muslim positions, BJP
under Modi has attempted to project itself as a party which believes in ‘sabka
saath, sabka vikaas‘.
the ground reality may be far from this slogan, Khan’s appointment will create
positive optics for the saffron party.
Mohammad Khan, progressive Muslim face in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet, who stood
up and eventually resigned in protest against his regressive appeasement
politics, made Governor of Kerala. This should be a moment of introspection for
the country. Do we EVER want Congress back?
AM - Sep 1, 2019
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political positions, if seen ideologically, have often been in stark variance
with the BJP. But political circumstances in India have brought them together,
and Khan has eventually chosen to tighten those knots.
may be principally against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s idea of a Hindu
rashtra, but by accepting the appointment, he has definitely lent an able
helping hand to its political avatar, the BJP.
saffron party has been actively campaigning against the alleged growth of
Islamist fundamentalism in Kerala, and has accused the Left and Congress
parties of covering it up. Khan’s interventions against such extremism, the
party would hope, will continue. A possible tussle between the governor and the
ruling Left Front, as a result, may also give a window to the BJP to make
inroads in state politics.
Krishna Ananth, professor of history at Sikkim University and the author of
India Since Independence: Making Sense of Indian Politics, believes that what
separates Khan from other secular critics of religious fundamentalism is that
the former is a career politician.
is an intellectual, well-versed in Islamic texts. He went against the party
line when other Muslim intellectuals in the Congress party like Salman Khurshid
never had the courage to oppose the Muslim orthodoxy. Khurshid supported the
government when it banned Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. He also stood with
the government on Shah Bano. Khan did not.”
is one part of him. But that he accepted an offer by a government which is
perceived as standing on the other side of religious fundamentalism, also
separates him from secular Muslim intellectuals like historian Irfan Habib or
Mushirul Hasan or activists like Asghar Ali Engineer.”
these people have always found themselves at the receiving end of attacks from
fundamentalists of all religions,” Ananth said, adding that Khan may have
surrendered to his political ambitions.
in an interview defending the Union government’s decision to read down Article
370, Khan said he was against any “special power” to the state but firmly
supported “greater federal powers” to states.
with the highest literacy rate in India and best human development indices, is
rebuilding itself after two years of intense floods. The government has been
demanding greater autonomy and finances to handle the crisis. In his new
position, Khan’s task is therefore cut out for him.
he will assist the government in bringing the state out of a crisis or will
confine himself to being the Centre’s representative remains to be seen. For
now, Khan has turned around his political career, from a perpetual outsider to
an insider, ironically in the saffron camp.
By Becoming Governor of Kerala, Arif
Mohd Khan Is Finally a Political Insider