Aligarh (UP): Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday said the matter pertaining to grant of minority status to Aligarh Muslim University is an issue of great concern and her party will do its best to ensure that the varsity gets autonomy.
"On our part, we will do our best to help the university in ensuring its autonomy and its historical character," she told the 60th annual convocation of AMU through audio conferencing after her visit was cancelled due to inclement weather.
The matter presently rests with the Supreme Court, which had ordered that `status quo` on the minority status of AMU be maintained but asked it not to enforce 50 per cent reservation for Muslims in admissions to MD and MS during the pendency of appeals.
The court passed this order while admitting appeals filed by AMU and the Centre challenging an Allahabad High Court judgement that it was not a Muslim minority institution within the meaning of Article 30 of the Constitution.
Sonia said AMU had played a very important role in the country`s freedom struggle and had produced a galaxy of freedom fighters like `Frontier Gandhi` Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar and Rafi Ahmad Kidwai.
"We can never forget the role played by members of Muslim community in the country`s freedom struggle," she said, adding that Nehru-Gandhi family had a long and deep association with AMU.
Sonia is the second woman to address the AMU convocation after Begum Sultan Jahan, who holds the distinction of delivering the address at the first Annual convocation of the university first in 1922 and later in the year 1925.
Former Indian Hockey Captain Zafar Iqbal, who was awarded the DLit degree, honoris causa, in his speech, said it was a tribute to all Indian sports persons.
Earlier in the day the Congress president cancelled her visit due to bad weather.
AMU Vice-Chancellor Lt Gen (Retd) Zameer Uddin Shah said Sonia`s plane could not take off due to inclement weather in the national capital.
Meanwhile, heavy showers in the night and early morning here had led to a last minute change in the venue of the convocation. The venue of the function was shifted from the pandal at the Athletics Grounds to the Kennedy Auditorium, according to the university`s spokesman.