Congress may benefit in some constituencies
As three Muslim political parties with a considerable membership base extending support to the DMK-led alliance, and eight other outfits declaring their support to the AIADMK, the Muslim vote-bank is being intensely wooed by both the major Dravidian parties for the coming Lok Sabha elections.
Parties rallying behind the DMK dub the other organisations as those representing only certain pockets and certain issues. However, the other group terms the organisations supporting the DMK as outfits not representing the unified Muslim community.
The three major Muslim outfits, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK)/Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK) and Tamil Nadu Thowheeth Jamaath (TNTJ) have extended support to the DMK-led alliance. In what appeared as a consolidation of the Muslim vote bank by these three outfits in the DMK’s favour led to an impression that it could affect the electoral prospects of the AIADMK and the BJP.
The TNTJ had initially identified itself with the AIADMK after it wrote to the Backward Classes Commission seeking recommendation for increasing the percentage of reservation for Muslims. However, the TNTJ has, close to the polling date, backed the DMK in 36 constituencies and chose to support the Congress in Mayiladuthuri, Theni and Kanyakumari.
The TNTJ’s change in the stance came in the wake of the AIADMK not coming out categorically against the anti-Minorities aspect in the BJP’s poll manifesto which brought back contentious issues like the ‘Uniform Civil Code.’ It was also because, the AIADMK initially never criticised the BJP or its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi.
Even as the AIADMK leader, Jayalalithaa has changed her campaign style of late, attacking both the BJP and Mr. Modi, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and Popular Front of India (PFI) have also extended support to the DMK in 36 constituencies. However, a number of other Muslim outfits supporting the AIADMK on Sunday told the media that their decision was purely based on the assurances by the Chief Minister to ensure sub-quota for Muslims in the reservation for backward classes.
S.M. Bakker president of Indian Thowheeth Jamaath, M. Basheer Ahmed, president of Indian National League, A. Fathima Musaffar, General Secretary of IUML and daughter of the late IUML leader Abdus Samad, and Inayathullah of All India National League said that it was the AIADMK government and Ms. Jayalalithaa who constituted a Commission for legally ensuring a sustainable reservation for Muslims during its earlier term from 2001 to 2006. However, the DMK never acted on the Commission’s report and in 2008 ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, a 3.5 per cent was given, they said. When the Muslim organisations represented that their community required a reservation proportionate to their population and sought five per cent reservation as it was done in the case of Vanniyars and SC/ST, the DMK promised to look into, but never kept its promise, they alleged. In addition, AIADMK has promised to look into the demand for release of Muslim prisoners and repeal of legislation on Compulsory Registration of Marriages.
To a perception that the Muslim youth prefer the new political parties rather than the traditional parties that represented their cause since 1950, the opinions differ.
M.H. Jawaharullah representing the MNMK in the Assembly said that the traditional political organisations of the Islamic community over a period of time lacked leadership and popularity because of the lack of proactive initiatives. This happened at a time when the minority community wanted a face and ascertain its rights in the political arena. This led to the birth of new political parties. Even the TMMK founded in 1995 took a plunge into politics only in 2009.
K.M. Khader Mohideen, president of the State unit of the IUML told The Hindu that the perception was baseless. He said that the new parties represented “certain pockets, sections and on certain issues.” The new organisations never represented the communities on the whole. The IUML never endorsed militant or rebellious approach to issues and problems. Such a principled approach can never be termed as soft-pedalling or inefficient and reactive approach, he contended. Islamic organisations that now take a ‘political avatar’ believe in instant solutions and they rope in the youth who want to be “fast and furious,” he said.
Dismissing impressions over the consolidation of minority vote bank in favour of DMK, Sheik Dawood, president of Tamil Maanila Mulsim League says that such perceptions are a myth. The electorate from the minority community are still with the AIADMK and they wanted a bold leadership that would just not take up their cause but also accomplish it.
However, Khader Mohideen says that the Islamic fraternity always goes by the 11,000-odd jamaaths in the State. Of the 13 per cent vote-bank of the minorities, Muslim vote-bank accounted for seven to eight per cent which will go in favour of the DMK, he maintained. With claims and counter-claims, and a mixture of new political outfits and a traditional party of the Muslims rallying behind the DMK, it remains to be seen which way the Muslim votes would swing.