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Arif Khan, Modi govt’s only 2nd Muslim governor, whose political views align with the BJP’s

The former Congress minister has toed the BJP line on a host of issues from triple talaq, abrogation of Article 370 to the 'myth of Muslim persecution'.

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New Delhi: Former union minister Arif Mohammad Khan, one of the most vocal supporters of the Modi government’s move to criminalise Triple Talaq, made it to the BJP’s list of governors declared Sunday.

Khan, who quit the BJP in 2007 to protest against the party distributing tickets to “tainted” candidates, has, however, toed the BJP line on a number of issues.  A vocal critic of “Islamic fundamentalism”, Khan has backed the abrogation of Article 370, dismissed the ‘myth of Muslim persecution’ in the present political climate, saying that the feeling of alienation in the community began in 1986 and not in 2014.  In August, Khan told The Indian Express that there had been no major riots in the last five years, the period of the first Modi government’s tenure.

As the newly-appointed Kerala governor, Khan is only the second Muslim after Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla to be granted constitutional office by the BJP. 

“Every political party identifies good Muslims for itself on the basis of three yardsticks — cultural capital (one must have an upper-caste, upper-class background), political correctness (stick to the existing dominant interpretation of being a Muslim in India), and the need to abide by party instruction,” political analyst Hilal Ahmed said of Khan’s appointment. “The current political situation says ‘Muslims need reform’, Modi requires someone who can articulate the same, so Arif fits the bill.” 

“There is a strong possibility to present the Uniform Civil Code as a measure to reform Islam and Indianise Muslims, Khan is the perfect candidate for that,” he added.

Also read: Congress minister during Rajiv era, TN BJP chief among 5 new governors appointed Sunday

The BJP and Kerala

 In Kerala, even though the BJP failed to win a single seat, the party managed to grow its vote share from approximately 10 per cent in 2014 to 12.93 per cent in 2019. 

 In the assembly elections, the BJP’s vote share grew from 6.03 per cent in 2011 to 10.6 per cent in 2016 and it won its first-ever legislative seat in the state. Although the LDF won a clear majority in the state, the BJP finished second in seven constituencies

Kerala, with a significant Muslim population of 26.56 per cent, is the fourth largest state in terms of Muslim population in India, according to the 2011 census.

“Kerala is an experiment since Khan is not a mass leader,” said Hilal Ahmed. “Khan has been sent there to intensify polarisation.”

Also read: Arif Mohammad Khan, you are still in 1986, your views on secularism & Muslims are outdated

Khan’s ‘reformist’ agenda

Prime Minister Narendra Modi quoted Khan’s speech in January this year when he delivered his Motion of Thanks to the President in Parliament.

“A former minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government said in an interview that its leaders claimed that it was not the duty of their party to uplift Muslims and if ‘they want to lie in gutter, let them be’,” Modi said. The minister referred to by Khan was former PM P. V. Narasimha Rao. 

In some quarters across social media, Khan’s appointment is being hailed as a push for Muslim reform.

 The new Kerala governor, however, holds controversial views on his community. 

In an interview with TheWire in June this year, Khan lashed out against the victimisation of Muslims in the current political climate and ‘Hindu supremacy’.

 “How did they (Muslims) become so poor? Sir Syed said no one has made us poor,” Khan had said.  “When the British started English medium education, a few years later 8,000 maulvis gathered and said that the English schools are a threat to Islam and opposed the education of Muslim children in English medium schools. So who is responsible for keeping us poor?”

Khan, a staunch supporter of the Modi government’s move to criminalise Triple Talaq even consulted with the Law Ministry on the issue. He had earlier said that in “the absence of a provision for punishment, (they) defy the judgment of the Supreme Court, would they not have defied the law enacted by Parliament?”

Rajya Sabha MP and senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi took a dig at the ruling party for its choice saying that the decision was “entirely expected”.

 “Congratulations to #ArifMohammedKhan on being appointed as Governor of Kerala. An entirely expected decision. His statements made in the recent times were an indicator of him soon getting rewarded by the BJP. The reward is well deserved and was long-awaited,” Singhvi tweeted.

The Shah Bano moment 

The four-time MP has a history of switching political parties and has previously held the portfolio Civil Aviation and Energy in the V. P. Singh-led Janata Dal government.

Born in Bulandhshahar, Uttar Pradesh, he contested his first election from Siyana on a Bharatiya Kranti Dal ticket but lost. In 1977, Khan won his first legislative election. Khan then went on to join the Congress and won two consecutive Lok Sabha elections, in 1980 from Kanpur and in 1984 from Bahraich. 

In 1986, Khan was a minister of state in the Rajiv Gandhi-led government. He was told to defend the Supreme Court verdict granting Shah Bano alimony after her divorce. His speech was unanimously praised but the government changed its stance. It overturned the judgment by enacting the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, after mass protests by the Muslim Personal Law Board. 

 Upset over the move, Khan tendered in his resignation. Soon after, he joined the Janata Dal and was made the union minister. 

 But Khan’s party-hopping didn’t stop there. He soon joined the Bahujan Samaj Party and was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998. In 2004, came the watershed moment for Khan. Despite a call from then Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Khan was not taken back into the Congress and joined the BJP. He contested from Kaisarganj in 2004 but lost the election. In 2007, Khan quit the BJP. 

  • The copy has been updated to amend Hilal Ahmed’s quote.

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  1. Truth always hurt and Mr. Arif speaks the truth about Muslim’s divided into many and each one calling the other an infidel (kaafir). He also states that Muslim’s boycotted every new invention initially and are not educated like others in the western world. He is correct and though this truth rings an alarm with some open minded Muslim’s but the close-minded Muslim’s take it as a threat. One must look at the reality of why 2.5 billion muslims with 52 countries in the world cannot compete in the world today. The answer us they have forgotten the Islam and led by uneducated, narrow minded, hatred monster Mullahs who’s focus is to keep Muslim’s uneducated and to create hatred between their own segments. In the last 500 years, can Muslim’s truly name a single invention or a notable research they have done?

    Muslim’s who have the brain and are capable of making a difference in today’s mankind must leave their Muslim countries to complete their work in the western (infidel) countries – as a no Muslim ask yourself why?

    Indeed the truth hurts but what are we doing about it – are we ready to through out these so called mullahs and Ullamas ?

  2. What a communal article…making it about Muslim and BJP…its about being an indian, excuse me…print’s polarising mentality is evident in this article…why not argue on facts against mr arif’ s points on article 370, triple talatq etc…you can’t because you have no feasible points. I have heard many of his interviews and his argument are supported by facts and he has remained consistent in the views he has expressed…you bhardwaj can’t argue on points and so start this despicable narrative of him toeing the BJP line- blah blah blah…haha really, he has left both Congress and BJP in the past because he refused to toe the party line
    Your anti BJP bias and anti mr Khan agenda is crystal clear. This is the degredation journalism has fallen to…twisting things to suit your nefarious agendas…don’t even possess the ‘o’ of objectivity. Shame.

  3. His views are always very logical, no one can deny. Most of the years he was associated with congress and other party, after that he joined BJP and quit in just 3 years and also lost election. After all this The Print journalist called him BJP mindset. This is why The Print’s journalism is so called.

  4. Arif’s views are very logical and respectful and seem emanating from an educated and knowledgeable person. His reasoning has clarity without ifs and buts and no lineage whatsoever.
    I sincerely honour his views.

  5. Arif Mohd. Khan’s views are logical, to call them aligned with BJP is unfair. The logic comes from studied approach. Just think, how many intellectuals can quote from from the Quran and Gita with same ease?

  6. Educated and intelligent Muslims must get recognition from the state. That will encourage other Muslims to come out of their ghettos and join the mainstream.

  7. You go to any western country, you will find a sizeable Muslim population, most of them live on the dole, and they never assimilate with the local people and their culture. In fact, Muslims abhor everything of the western culture except the financial benefits. In any yardstick, Muslims are the last in the queue, be it in education or jobs.

    The house Negroes–they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good because they ate his food–what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near their master; and they loved their master more than their master loved himself. They would give their life to save their master’s house–quicker than the master would. If the master said, “We got a good house here,” the house Negro would say, “Yeah, we got a good house here.” Whenever the master said “we,” he said “we.” That’s how you can tell a house Negro.

    If the master’s house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master go sick, the house Negro would say, “What’s the matter, boss, we sick?” We sick! He identified himself with his master, more than his master identified with himself. And if you came to the house Negro and said, “Let’s run away, let’s escape, let’s separate.” The house Negro would look at you and say, “Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?”


    • It is India not Arabia!! Change your thinking. White owes negros because of past colonialism. India dont owe anything to Arabi culture followers.

    • Until Muslims come out of their ghetto mentality, they will always be the last man in education and jobs.
      Muslims always send their children to mosques for religious education after their normal school hours in the western countries. No other community is so specific about religious education of their children as Muslims are. But Muslims commit most crimes in the western world, be it in UK, USA, Canada, or any other western countries.

      • What is your evidence that Muslims commit the most crimes in the Western world???
        Like most Modi followers you are barely literate and that says a lot about standards of education in my country.
        My own evidence that followers of Modi are barely literate. comes from primary research partly done by reading the posts of you lot, here, and on twitter and on what’s app.
        It’s very depressing to see the ugly mindsets of so many of my countrymen and women who support BJP.

    • Your excellent analogy applies to these other House negro Muslims too.
      M J Akbar, Nazma Heptullah, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Md Shahnawaz Hussain.
      These Are to the RSS Bahkts as the House negro was to his White slave owner.
      They will be held responsible for betraying the Indian Muslim community in favour of fascism.
      They worship at the feet of the butcher of Gujarat, history will judge them as harshly as it judged Abraham Gancwajch the Jew who collaborated with the Nazis, helping the facist forces to oppress his fellow Jews.
      If you think this is an exaggeration, just read Savakar and his views on Muslims.
      How can a Muslim be part of a RSS gang that worships
      These are pathetic opportunists, like the house negro

  9. He didn’t toe anyone’s line but spoke his heart in a constructive way since 1989. We need people like him and not the pseudo-seculars who keep propagating one another lies in the name of Muslim appeasement! Get a life Mr. Bharadwaj and stop the nonsense in the name of journalism.

  10. I respect Arif Mohd. Khan as he tendered resignation in protest against Shah Bano somersault of Rajiv Gandhi who back-stabbed Muslim girls.

  11. Whatever may be the calculations at work, the appointment of prominent Muslims, who have a decent track record in public life, to positions of visibility and status augurs well for the BJP’s evolution as the dominant pole of Indian politics. Its foundational beliefs need to move beyond 370 / UCC / Temple, which are posited against Muslims, an almost one hundred year old organising principle. Such appointments also address the fear articulated by some that Muslims in India will be denied representation in the upper echelons of public life, must reconcile themselves to a subordinate, subservient status. Dr Abdul Kalam was Rashtrapati material. Shri Arif Mohamed Khan will make a good Governor.

  12. Abhishek Manu Singhvi should not be talking on the appoint or rather no Congress person has any right. What they have done President’s post under Congress rule is known to every. They did not re-elect Abdul Kalam, one of most respected personality, who was above any party line and went elected Pratibha Patil as President. Does anyone know what was contribution prior to her election to the highest office? At least most know, including Congress on what principles Arif Mohd Khan stood. In fact Congress bypassed Supreme court order on Shahbano case and brought a law in Parliament buckling under pressure from few moulvis.

  13. Arif Mohammad Khan, M J Akbar and Nazma Heptullah- BJP now has 3 strong Muslim leaders in addition to Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Md Shahnawaz Hussain.

    Mr Khan’s views has been quite clear and consistent through the last 3 decades. He has doubled down on them and thus has been rewarded.

  14. So this is the title?! And you claim BJP is communalist!!!
    Arif Mohammad Khan is a patriotic Indian. That’s all matters. Did Congis appoint RSS members as Governors when they were in power?

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