failed in his political life Arif Mohammad Khan as new governor of Kerala : Opportunism or pragmatism

Arif Mohammad Khan
Arif Mohammad Khan

Mohammad Khan, who quit Rajiv govt, is new Kerala governer

He was an
icon of the progressive in 1985 when
Rajiv Gandhi introduced him into his ministry. Then he resigned on the issue of
Rajiv’s stand overturning Supreme Court judgement on the divorce compensation
to be provided to Mrs. Shah Bano. Though, he was a never a darling of the
conservatives who felt he always attempted to embarrass the Muslim religious as
well as political leadership yet many felt silently that at least some one was
there who was taking them head on. People like us, who were growing to
adulthood when the knowledge to us was just flowing from Arun Shourie’s big front-page
articles in the Indian Express or the morning and evening radio programs of BBC
Hindi service, Arif Mohammad Khan was a change maker, a revolutionary in

resignation from Rajiv government was welcomed as well as criticised. The loser
ultimately was Congress party who without doing any work for the uplift of the
Muslim community got continuous ‘award’ of Muslim ‘appeasement’ the Hindutva
groups. Shahbano was the biggest gift of Congress or the hardline Muslims to
Hindutva leaders who flourished on it. I may or may not agree with the thing
but when we stop all avenues for a peaceful resolution and become rigid, things
turn worst.

Arif became
an important leader of Jan Morcha formed by late V P Singh and when the
National Front formed the government with the outside support of both the Left
Front and BJP, Arif was the Minister. His image till those years was clean
though he was never clear on the issue of Mandal Commission and never came out
strongly in its support.

After the
fall of V P Singh government by the BJP, Arif Mohammad Khan was in hibernation.
He flirted with BJP, BSP and yet did not succeed. He was comfortable in
challenging the dominance of Mullahs but never bothered to raise the issue of
Pasmanda Muslims and the caste question with in Islam. He could have done it
well if he had wanted as he is very articulate and can be thought provoking as
well. That is an art and Arif is quite expert in it.

There is
nothing wrong in critiquing religion, challenging the dominance of religious
leaders and to bring them to the national mainstream, though it is debatable as
what is ‘mainstream’ in India today, the Brahmanical mainstream or
Constitutional mainstream. Arif Mohammad Khan could have done many more thing
to bring hope among Muslims in India. He could have taken their issues of isolation,
despondency, frustration but instead of that he demonised the Muslims. I was
shocked to hear his recent fulminations in various ‘interviews’ that he gave to
many of the journalists. I do not watch TV so I only access these interviews
when they come to me through my twitter handle. The shameless manner he
justified things in Kashmir, on triple talaq and lauded the Brahmanical culture
were indication which direction the wind was flowing. Arif’s story is like many
others among Muslims who are seculars and don’t like their religious leaders
but end up in supporting similar leaders from other communities.

What Arif
did was not ‘ideological’ but purely opportunism or in politics they call it
‘pragmatism’, but not beyond that. You can say he is either opportunist or
pragmatist but what can be the other word to describe his current flirtations
with Hindutva. I think, each political leader after a period become
‘pragmatist’ if there are more failure in his political life. Arif was never
the darling of large Muslim community and hence he loses nothing in this. His
political career is already over and will depend on BJP who will use him for
spreading their ideology and suggesting the ‘tolerance’ towards Muslims and
will only debunk him once his USP is expired.

Arif Saheb has been duly acknowledged by the ‘mighty’ and he will soon take
over as Governor of Kerala. Let us see how he function there, as the agent of
Centre or as a person dedicated to uphold the Constitution of India. Only time
will tell how Arif Mohammad Khan handle his new office but one thing is clear
whatever happens, like all ‘smart’ leaders he too has all the arguments along
with ‘documents’ to justify his position.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

September 2nd, 2019