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06 December 2011

GUEST EDITORIAL: Muslim leaders ill-serve the community

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By Mohammad Shahid Parvez

When a few years ago Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav joined hands with the former Chief Minister and expelled BJP leader Kalyan Singh, Muslims cried foul and accused him of betraying the community, which always supported the party, by aligning with the man behind demolition of Babri Masjid. Azam Khan, the Muslim face of the SP, quit the party in protest (though his differences with Amar Singh was said to be the main reason for his quitting the party). Samajwadi Party suffered big losses in the election that followed when Muslims voted against it. Ironically, some leaders of the same Muslim community are hobnobbing with the saffron parties on the eve of elections to the Uttar Pradesh state Assembly for reasons best known to them. First, Shia scholar and Vice-President of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Maulana Kalbe Sadiq had a meeting with former RSS chief Sudarshan and later in a statement appealed to Muslims to vote for honest Hindus. What conspired between the two leaders is not known, but one can ask as what message the Maulana wanted to give to the community through his appeal? When did Muslims not vote for secular and honest Hindus? The Congress Party, SP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which Muslims voted from time to time are led by Hindus and majority of candidates fielded by them are Hindus.Then does Maulana Sadiq believe that only Sudarshan and his brand of Hindus are honest?

Then, there is newly formed Rashtriya Inquelab Party (RIP) led by the former expelled BSP Member of Parliament (MP) and Vice President of Jamaat-I-Islami Hind supported Welfare Party of India (WPI) Iliyas Azmi, which is ready to support the rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) , a party that still swears by Ram temple and observes December 6, the day Babri Masjid was demolished, as Shaurya Diwas. Aslam Zaidi, Genera Secretary of Rashtriya Inquelab Party, says, "We do not believe that BJP is untouchable in the present political system. Muslims can support the BJP if their certain issues are addressed by the party." However, Mr. Zaidi fails to elaborate the issues which he wants the BJP to address. Does it include Babri Masjid? The demolition of Babri Masjid was not only an attack on a building, but on the self-respect and psyche of Muslims. Do Mr. Zaidi or Kalbe Sadiq expect the BJP or RSS to apologise for the demolition and restore the mosque at the site? They will never do so because the entire ideology of the RSS is based on Muslim hatredness. What has prompted these leaders, if not their vested interests, to hobnob with saffron brigade who went to court demanding deletion of 27 verses of Holy Quran and whose ideologue Gowalker called Muslims internal enemies along with Christians and Communists. Do not these leaders and outfits, who flourish on the sentiments of Muslims, owe an explanation to the community?

In fact with the UP assembly elections in sight and and campaign getting hotter by the day, everybody who is somebody is trying to encash on the Muslim sentiments. Almost every Muslim leader, who has little contribution in the development of the community, has floated his own party. Peace Party, Rashtriya Ulema Council, Ekta Party, Welfare Party of India, besides the above mentioned Rashtriya Inquelab Party to mention only a few, are ready to join the battle of ballots to 'serve' the cause of Muslims. Most of these parties which have no influence except in a few pockets in the home turf of their founders nevertheless plan to contest all or majority of Assembly seats in the state.With no worthwhile base and infrastructure to win an election what these parties and their leaders want to achieve by contesting elections? So many parties representing one community contesting elections separately will result only in division of Muslim vote, which the forces inimical to the community's interests want. Most of these leaders seek pre-poll or post-poll alliances with the Congress, SP, BSP and even BJP, but after all what stops them from joining hands with each other to form a united front which can be more effective in serving the interest of the community.

At a time when caste and community factors are coming to the fore in UP elections and pushing all other issues into the background and parties are leaving no stone unturned to woo the voters by exploiting their caste and community sentiments, Muslims who form 20 percent of the total electorate and can influence the result of 100-150 seats are much in demand. Sops are thrown to them and crocodile tears shed on their plight and promises to redress all their grievances are made by almost every major party if it comes to power. This is the time when the community can make a good bargain from any of the parties it wants only if its leaders shed their vested interests and come together to devise a common strategy in the larger interest of the community.

But unfortunately the community stands divided on caste and secterian lines with each caste and section making its own demands and its leaders each pulling in different directions to serve their own interests. At this juncture, the community needs a leader who can rise above narrow interests and bring various sections of Muslim community along with other downtrodden groups of society on a single platform to force the powers that be, to heed to their problems. Till then the community will continue to be exploited by big political parties on false promises.

[Mohammad Shahid Parvez is former News Editor, National Herald, Lucknow. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Uttar Pradesh). He can be contacted at mshahidparvez@gmail.com]

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