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'People punished those who opposed nuke deal'

By Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC
May 17, 2009 09:20 IST
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The Association of Indian Muslims of America, representing over 200,000 Indian-American Muslims, has hailed the Congress's convincing victory and the Bharatiya Janata Party's rout, and said its "represents excellent news for the future development and continued growth of a composite secular society in India".

Kaleem Kawaja, a AIMA spokesman and a senior engineer at NASA, told, "that heartening that the United Progressive Alliance coalition turned back the challenge of the reactionary parties that have time and again infused religion in the political process".

He recalled that "I was in India last month when polling took place there, and I could sense then that voters were leaning towards the basic message of inclusiveness, pluralism and development that the Congress and their allies projected".

Kawaja also speculated that "I also believe that the people of India punished those politicians who had opposed last year's Indo-US civilian nuclear deal".

He argued that "by not repudiating the horrible anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002, and not taking strong action to give justice to the victims of that carnage, the BJP sent the wrong message to the nation."

"Instead of making Narendra Modi (Gujarat Chief Minister), accountable for that carnage, they projected him as one of the future leaders of India," Kawaja said, and added, "It is a tribute to the innate sense of justice of the common Indians that they rejected that thinking."

Kawaja said, "Indeed, for us Indian Americans also, it is a time of reflection. We must push for an egalitarian, inclusive and just polity in India that cares for the minorities and deprived segments of society.'

"We should build the same kind of composite society in India that we want for ourselves in the US. For myself, I am looking forward to five more years of economic-industrial growth and tranquility in the nation."

For Kawaja, the election was very close to home because his first cousin, contesting on a Congress ticket won handsomely, beating his Bahujan Samajwadi Party rival.

"I was watching this election very closely since along with other considerations, my first cousin, Syed Zafar Ali Naqvi was running on a Congress ticket from Kheri-Lakhimpur in Uttar Pradesh."

"Fortunately, he was elected by a significant margin," the proud cousin, sitting in Ellicott City in Maryland -- a suburb of Washington, DC said.

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC