Muslim Congress leader laments over Christian Congress leader’s lunch with Taslima

published on October 10, 2008

MLA’s lunch with Taslima causes ripples in State Congress

Pioneer News Service | Kochi

The name of Bangladeshi novelist in exile Taslima Nasrin continues to be a subject of controversy even in the remote southern State of Kerala. This time the writer’s name has been dragged into a controversy due to a tug-of-war between two leaders of the State Congress.

The controversy erupted after senior Congress leader TH Mustafa, who had earned immense repute some years ago by marrying (that was not his first marriage) a woman allegedly of his son’s age, charged former Minister and party MLA from Ernakulam KV Thomas with intention to humiliate Muslims by sharing a lunch table with Taslima recently.

Thomas had lunched with Taslima at the Kerala House in New Delhi on Tuesday. She had visited him at his room there before they had lunch together at a restaurant in the facility. Mustafa said that this was an act of humiliation as far as Muslims of Kerala and India were concerned. “Thomas had done this deliberately to humiliate Muslims,” he charged. Reaction of Thomas was not available.

However, cartoonist Sudhir Nath, a close friend of the Bangladeshi writer, said it was he who had brought her for lunch at Kerala House. In a statement, he said Thomas was just one of the persons who had lunched together on that day. “There were several journalists and others. It was not fair on the part of Mustafa to raise such baseless agitations,” he said.

Mustafa rejected the suggestions that the meeting between the Congress leader and the writer was accidental. “It was not I who said that Thomas had invited Taslima. Veekshanam daily, the organ of the State Congress unit, had reported that the writer had been brought to Kerala House on invitation,” he said.

“You must have seen it on the TV. On reaching Kerala House, she had directly gone to Thomas’s room. Thomas was sitting next to her at the lunch table. Do you call this ‘accidental’?” he asked.

Mustafa alleged that Thomas had never been a friend of the Muslims. “He does not have any love for Muslims or even for the country. He just wants to humiliate Muslims,” he charged.

The Muslim-Congress leader said that he had asked the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee to take action against Thomas on the issue. He also said that Thomas should be removed from the post of chairman of the organising committee of the State Congress conference to be held in Kochi in November.

Critics of Mustafa in the Congress party said this was the very reason for him to raise such an allegation against Thomas at this juncture. They said Mustafa was sore at the selection of the Ernakulam MLA as the chairman of the conference’s organising committee and he had staked his claim to the post.

However, Thomas knew about the Taslima’s visit into the Kerala House, where she was not lunching for the first time. Thomas had some of his friends in Delhi’s journalists’ circle, tipping them about the visit and had specifically told them about it.

Sudhir said there was nothing wrong in the meeting between Thomas and Taslima as he was one among the many who had shared the same table that day. He said he was ashamed to hear about such an allegation from a senior Congress leader like Mustafa.

The cartoonist said that it was Mustafa who had brought disrepute to Quran and Muslims through his acts by giving a wrong message to Muslim and people about Quran by marrying a girl of his daughter’s age. He asked the Congress to take action against people like Mustafa who were indulging in acts that brought humiliation to entire mankind.

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