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Rahul to meet Muslim intellectuals; BJP sees political agenda behind ‘secret rendezvous’


NEW DELHI: Congress president Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to meet a group of Muslim intellectuals as part of his party’s campaign to reach out to various sections ahead of the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha elections. According to reports, the meeting will take place at Rahul Gandhi’s residence in the national capital.
Noted among those who will have an interaction with the Congress president include lyricist Javed Akhtar, actress Shabana Azmi, academician Zoya Hasan, social activist Shabnam Hashmi, former Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed, Syed Zafar Mahmood, who was the former OSD to ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and several others.
The Congress chief had on Tuesday met noted film director PA Ranjith who is credited for blockbuster films like Madras, Kabali and Kaala, and actor Kalaiyarasan, in Delhi.
About 15-18 intellectuals will be meeting the Gandhi scion at his residence around 5 pm, said highly informed sources.
It is also learnt that this meeting will be followed by another on similar lines.
Sources also said that Rahul will not meet religious or fundamentalist Muslim leaders but only progressive and moderate intellectuals of the minority community.
According to Congress’ Minority Department chairman Nadeem Javed, Rahul Gandhi had met different leaders of different communities in the past and observed that dialogue with intellectuals leads to a constructive outcome.
Rahul Gandhi’s meetings with prominent minority community members are being organised to discuss challenges being faced by the Muslim community under the present Narendra Modi-led BJP regime.
However, the ruling BJP has come down heavily on the Congress president’s scheduled meetings with the Muslim intellectuals.
Attacking the Congress party, the BJP asked it to explain the reason behind Rahul Gandhi’s ‘secret’ meetings with the leading Muslim personalities.
The saffron party said that Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with Muslim figures was purely driven with political motives and sought to know why was it kept a secret.
The BJP also accused the Congress party of trying to form a secret alliance with the Muslims ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Interestingly, the Congress party, which had earlier denied having any knowledge of Rahul’s meetings with Muslim scholars, later defended it by saying that as party chief and tallest opposition leader he has every right to meet people from different walks of life.