Call for political empowerment of Muslims

Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: Community leaders, intellectuals, academicians and activists underlined the significance of political empowerment of Muslims through their due representation in the legislatures to find a platform for raising their issues at a political convention of the All-India Milli Council here on Saturday.

The participants in the day-long convention felt that the Muslim community could highlight its grievances and draw the attention of the civil society to the difficulties faced by it if it made itself “politically relevant” and made common cause with other deprived groups such as Dalits, tribals and marginalised sections.

Among others, former MP Syed Shahabuddin, Gurdeep Singh of Akali Dal, Digant Oza of South Asia Free Media Association, Mumbai-based activist Abdul Rehman Milli, Rajasthan Minorities Commission’s Member G. Khan and Milli Council’s secretary general M. Manzoor Alam addressed the convention.

Mr. Shahabuddin said the political parties were not putting up Muslim candidates in elections in proportion to their population and “strong governments”, when voted to power, did not care for the community. He said Muslims were usually not fielded from the seats with good potential for winning.

Referring to the Rajasthan Assembly elections due later this year, Mr. Shahabuddin said at least 17 of the 200 seats should go to Muslims as they comprised 8.5 per cent of the State’s population. He said all political parties should be apprised of the community’s expectations and told to give tickets to an adequate number of candidates.

Milli Council’s State general secretary Abdul Qayoom Akhtar said the educated section of the community should act as a pressure group to wield political influence. He said the lack of monitoring had led to the State Government not taking action to release scholarships to students of minority communities and open branches of banks in the Muslim-dominated areas.

While former civil servant A.R. Khan underlined the need for building up a dynamic social capital for the community’s progress, Mansoori Samaj leader Abdul Latif said there was a lesson to be learnt from the Dalit leadership in Uttar Pradesh that had succeeded in capturing power by its social engineering.

Local representatives of the Milli Council pointed out that there were as many as 26 Assembly constituencies after delimitation in the State where the population of Muslim voters exceeded 40,000. The participants felt that Muslims were in a position to influence election results at these seats.

The speakers called upon Muslims to exercise their franchise prudently and not allow themselves to be exploited by any political party. They also said a government depending on the support of diversified parties would be more inclined to resolve the grievances of Muslims.

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