SHAFAQNA – It is still two years to 2017 when Uttar Pradesh and the current Samajwadi Party (SP) government under Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will participate in another battle of the ballot. But prominent Shia cleric and Imam-e-Juma Maulana Kalbe Jawad has already jumped into the poll preparation once again.
On Saturday, Jawad said the Majlis-e-Ulemae-Hind plans to form “a new political alliance” to fight the SP and get “fair representation for the Shia community” in governance and decision making. This could spell trouble for the SP, which banks heavily on the votes of the minority community in the state, though there is still time to tell which way the tide will turn.
“We believe that the people in the state government give wrong information about our (Shia) population. The fact is that we are in a position to win 50 to 60 Assembly seats on our own. This number can go up to more than 200 if the Sunni and Hindu brothers stand by us,” he said at a gathering attended by the Maulanas of Saharanpur, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Rampur, Kanpur, Bahraich, Etawah, Faizabad among others.
They also released a list of 50 Assembly seats including Lucknow West, Lucknow East, Lucknow North, Bakshi Ka Talab, Barabanki, Sultanpur, Allahabad North, Allahabad South and Phulpur and claimed that they could easily ensure the victory of any candidate on these constituencies. Maulana Mohseen Taqvi, who presided over the meeting, said, “We cannot sit idle when the state government is victimizing the Shia community. We want our representation in the government, inclusion of the property of Lucknow’s Hussianbad Trust in Waqf and 20 per cent reservation for Shia community in every scheme of the state government for the minority community. Now we will take our rights by fighting our battle politically.”
“The political front would be an alliance and will incorporate Shia, Sunni and Hindu leaders and work for the development and peaceful coexistence between communities,” said Jawad.
The formation of such political parties a year or two ahead of elections is not new in UP, where Muslim votes decide the wave on more than 150 Assembly seats out of a total of 403.
In slumber since 2012, when the SP had come to power in the state, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind resurfaced in Lucknow two days back and held a rally to “remind” Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav of his failures in fulfilling the promises to the Muslim community.
Attended by the Jamiat’s general secretary and former Rajya Sabha member of the Rashtriya Lok Dal, Maulana Mahmood Madani, and former colleague of Anna Hazare Swami Agnivesh, it was declared that they would launch a series of campaigns against the state government.
All India Sunni Ulema Council (AISUC), which was never heard before, had recently sought time from Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat to clarify their doubts.
“While we have already held a meeting of RSS leader Indresh Kumar and reached nowhere, we want Bhagwat to explain to us his Hindu Rashtra theory,” said Haji Mohammad Salees, general secretary of AISUC.
Amir Rashadi, a cleric of Azamgarh, had formed Rashtriya Ulema Council in 2009 to mount pressure on the then Congress-led UPA government to order a judicial probe into the controversial Batla House shoot-out of 2008.
But Rashadi’s intention became clear when he fielded his party’s candidates in 2009 Parliamentary elections. Rashadi didn’t waste any time in frustrating his supporters from eastern UP by declaring his support to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) against the SP at the eleventh hour.
Before that, People’s Democratic Front (PDF) and United Democratic Front (UDF) had started massive campaign in UP in 2006 under the leadership of Kalbe Jawad and Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Sayed Ahmed Bukhari, respectively.
But Jawad held a secret meeting with Mulayam a few days before polling and resigned from the PDF. His reasoning: He is a religious leader who had nothing to do with politics.