SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-A once influential Muslim political party in India’s western region during the 1970s and 1980s is making a comeback, with hopes to offer a better representation for the Muslim minority considered for decades as vote banks for other parties.
“The [living] condition of Muslims has worsened and no one is making an effort to improve it. Parties remember Muslims only during elections,” Abdul Rehman CH, general secretary of the Indian Unions Muslim League (IUML), Mumbai, told Hindustan Times on Monday, September 22.
According to IUML leaders, the reemergence of the party was prompted by the failure of the current government to fulfill its promises to the Muslim community.
The revived political party, which has strong presence in Kerala state, will be contesting about 40 seats in the western Indian state of Maharashtra for the first time in decades.
Enjoying a great support by minorities in Maharashtra over the past years, the Congress-NCP alliance may not get the same support after the return of IUML and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).
The party that was founded in 1948 announced plans to contest in the Muslim-majority areas in Maharashtra, naming its candidate from the Colaba, Mumbadevi and Byculla constituencies.
Citing its achievements in Kerala, IUML leaders promised to double their efforts in Maharashtra to improve the situation of the Muslim minority.
Yet, some analysts believe that the revived political party may not be able to restore its last century’s power.
“IUML has arrived on the scene too late, and too close to the elections,” said Shirin Dalvi, the editor of the Avadhnama Urdu Daily Mumbai.
“People have forgotten the party.”
There are some 180 million Muslims in Hindu-majority India, the world’s third-largest Muslim population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.
After the ascension of Narendra Modi to power, several Hindu nationalist groups have been fanning anti-Muslim communal clashes in several Indian states.
Muslims’ tense relations with the Hindu nationalists started after the bloody massacre of more than 2000 Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.
Many Muslims fear that Modi could end several schemes meant for minority community launched by the Congress government.
Several Indian cities became targets of communal clashes recently, which led to large-scale violence. These incidents were triggered by inflammatory posts on social media.
According to Muslim leaders, the recent communal tensions were a direct result of the rise of Hindu nationalist groups after Modi’s election.