The remote hamlet of Malappuram in Kerala is an unlikely site for recalling the siege of Homs, the long battle for Syria???s soul, now idolized in a documentary by the Damascus-born film-maker, Talal Derki, which received international acclaim, including the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at this year???s Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, which has seen many imponderables, this is what stands out in the swansong fight for the seat by E. Ahamed, the 76-year-old minister of state for external affairs. But deep down, the constituency???s somnolent poll campaign, whose outcome is not in doubt, is a fight for the legacy of the Indian Union Muslim League, of which he is accidentally the so-called national president. Ahamed???s presence in this recently reconstituted Lok Sabha seat is an uneasy reminder of a huge disconnection between the country???s self-styled Muslim leadership and the aspirations of a community that is used to calling itself a minority, an idea which none other than the longest serving foreign minister in the world, Saudi Arabia???s Prince Saud al Faisal, roundly rejected some years ago to the huge embarrassment of those in South Asia, especially in Pakistan, who have made their careers and policy out of such a premise.
I remember a meeting with Ahamed in the waiting room of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao???s residence, 7 Race Course Road, in the first half of December 1992, a few days after the demolition of Babri Masjid. He had gone there to meet Rao in secret. The conventional wisdom among many Muslims at that time was that Rao was complicit in the demolition of the mosque by his typical inaction, which made the dem