Many Muslim leaders, worried about electoral marginalisation of the community, especially after the split in Muslim votes in Assam, have initiated a serious move to bring together all groups, sects and schools of thought under one platform to make the community of 160 million a strong political force.
A series of meetings are being held to forge a common political front in alliance with secular minded groups to become electorally relevant, keeping in view the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh elections next year.
Former Member of Parliament Mohammed Adeeb, former General Secretary of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat Ilyas Malik and former Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students leader Z.K. Faizan have started parleys with various leaders.
These leaders said the recent meeting of Barelvi sect chief Maulana Tauqeer Raza with clerics of Deoband’s Darul Uloom is significant.
There is already a move to bring All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) of Assam’s Badruddin Ajmal, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen of Asaduddin Owaisi and the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari together along with other political groups so that the Uttar Pradesh elections are fought under one banner and common programme, Adeeb told this correspondent.
Several Muslim parties like the Welfare Party and Peace Party have not emerged politically strong in Uttar Pradesh or other parts of the country.
Ilyas also claimed that the group of Muslim leaders will visit Nadwatul Uloom, Lucknow and Darul Uloom to impress upon religious leaders to lend their support to “save Muslims from political alienation”.
He said the Assam assembly results are a matter of concern, where despite comprising 35 per cent of the population, Muslims got “marginalized” as their vote got split into various political groups.
“We have witnessed the same in the parliamentary elections. In many constituencies, despite Muslims being in sizable numbers, we could not ensure victory of the candidate of our choice. This is going to happen again if we fail to form a common agenda and ensure fielding of common candidates, especially in western Uttar Pradesh where the community has reasonably good concentration,” Ilyas said.
Faizan, who was once a close associate of the late senior Congress leader H.N. Bahuguna, said efforts are being made to rope in senior Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan, who “appears unhappy” with the Samajwadi Party and has aired his differences on many occasion, including on nomination of Amar Singh as a Rajya Sabha member.
The leaders said that Muslims have been used as vote bank by various political parties which did nothing for their economic and educational uplift.
Despite efforts made by some secular parties to forge strong alliance between Congress and the AIUDF and other groups, former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was reluctant.
The result was a rout of Congress as well as decline in the number of seats of Ajmal’s party.
Adeeb said there should be a coordination committee of all Muslim groups and organisations that should be empowered to take decisions on the selection of candidates.
It should also start talks with like-minded secular parties and groups.
Malik suggested that it would be good if Muslims and Dalits joined hands to defeat communal forces.