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Khurshid's elevation seen as an attempts to get back Muslims votes - The Times of India

Arvind Singh Bisht ()
July 10, 1998

Title: Khurshid's elevation seen as an attempts to get back Muslims votes
Author: Arvind Singh Bisht
Publication: The Times of India
Date: July 10, 1998

The choice of Mr Salman Khurshid, for the coveted post of Uttar
Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) presidentship, is seen as a
part of the party leadership's strategy to gear up and meet the
challenge posed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

It is done with the intention of attracting sections of society,
particularly Muslims, who were once considered to form a strong
support base for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress, traditionally, always relied on the support of
Scheduled Castes (SC), upper castes and Muslims. However, the
rise of new political outfits paved the way for new equations and
combinations. As a result, the Congress witnessed a steady
erosion of its vote bank over the years. The greatest setback to
the party came from the Ayodhya demolition, which deprived the
Congress of Muslim support. The community still nurses a major
grudge against the Congress.

The party is keen to assuage the hurt feelings of the community
and bring it back into its fold. In this context, the
appointment of Mr Khurshid is viewed in political circles, as an
example of AICC president Ms Sonia Gandhi's political far-
sightedness. Moreover, the Ayodhya issue still remains in focus,
and Muslims still keenly watch the political developments in this
regard. Mr Khurshid will be the second UPCC president belonging
to the minority community after Ms Mohsina Kidwai, who held the
post from 1977 to 1980. The party, under. her leadership, romped
to victory in the successive elections, after its debacle in the
post-Emergency era in 1977.

An Oxford scholar, Mr Khurshid has inherited the political legacy
of his father, Mr Khurshid Alam Khan, governor of Karnataka, who
is also son-in-law of late president Dr Zakir Husain. Although Mr
Khurshid lost the Lok Sabha elections in 1989, 1996 and 1998, he
had the credit of representing his traditional Farrukhabad Lok
Sabha seat in 1991, and holding the portfolio of minister of
state for external affairs.

she responsibility has fallen on Mr Khurshid, three months after
his predecessor, Mr. N.D. Tiwari had resigned in the wake of the
Congress debacle in the Lok Sabha elections. The leadership
vacuum left the party's rank and files dormant, and were
virtually divided into lobbies, led mainly by former AICC vice-
president Jitendra Prasada and Mr N.D. Tiwari. The internecine
warfare within the Congress was evident from the fact that Mr
Tiwari could not constitute the state executive of the party
during his tenure. It is said that the hurdle was mainly created
in it by supporters of Mr Prasada.

The internal bickerings within the party surely makes the task of
Mr Khurshid difficult. But all will depend on his ability to
manage the party affairs and provide much needed leadership skill
to the party's rank and file.

The appointment of Mr Khurshid has been hailed widely by all the
party leaders and this has suddenly made the UPCC active. The
office which otherwise wore a deserted look, was seen bustling
with activity with various party leaders making preparations for
a rousing reception to be given to the new party chief here on
his arrival on July 14. Party leaders of all hues have lauded Ms
Sonia Gandhi for her decision to appoint Mr Khurshid and said
that it would surely rejuvenate the party.

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