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The Rediff Interview/Maulana Kalbe Jawaad
'The common Muslim wants the clergy in politics'
May 23, 2006
Exactly 100 years after the formation of the Muslim League, a group of clerics in Uttar Pradesh have formed a political party to protect the rights and larger interests of the community.
The group feels the community had failed to get its due from successive governments in the state and at the Centre.
I would like to clarify that the PDF is not a Muslim party. Our objective is not to confine the party to Muslims alone. It will incorporate other downtrodden and oppressed classes of society. But, of course, Muslims form the larger chunk of oppressed classes in India.
Would you elaborate on that?
You see, India became independent all right, but Muslims continued to remain in the clutches of one or the other political party that used them only for their own electoral gains over these 57 years. Atrocities continue to be committed on Muslims and the guilty have been allowed to get away with murder.
At least I am not aware of what she has done for Muslims.
Yes, some individuals might have acquired high offices. But they have proved to be of no good to Muslim society at large.
No, I would not like to take any names. But I can cite the example of a senior Congress leader who visited the Deoband Islamic School recently. Asked to comment on the United Progressive Alliance government's stand on the Iran issue, he flatly remarked, "If I say that the stand taken by the government is correct, you all will throw me out. If I disagree with the government's stand, then they will show me the door." Now what can you expect from a person who cannot even express his feelings frankly?
Well, each of these parties and their leaders have only served their limited vested interests. They are only interested in grabbing Muslim votes. Once elections are over, they forget about them. They get busy with their money-making and enjoying the fruits of power.
I find it rather amusing whenever I find news reports suggesting Mulayam is trying to flatter Muslims. I can recall only incidents like the firing on Muslims in Aligarh and Lucknow. I wonder if that was his way of flattering Muslims.
There were historical reasons. And it was the segregation of the Islamic clergy from politics that was largely responsible for this. If you look back into the freedom movement, you will find the close involvement of the Moulvis, who fought and even laid down their lives fighting the British. They were tortured by the British simply because those rulers knew that the clergy had the capability to unite the Muslims. Unfortunately, the clerics of the day decided to confine themselves to mosques and madrassas -- that ideally suited the British.
I am firmly of the view that some involvement of the Ulema in politics could curb the ills that have crept in over the years. I am advocating an active but not direct role in politics.
I believe that the Ulema should play a supervisory role -- not get directly involved in politics. That would bring in a necessary check on the quality of politics. After all, Prophet Mohammed himself played both roles with a perfect balance.
Yes. The path is going to be tough. But I sincerely believe if Muslims decide to stand united under one banner, they can overcome any obstacle.
Absolutely. I am sure goondas would not have been ruling the roost if the Ulema had some role to play. The tragedy is rogues get to power by hook or by crook. By fuelling riots, getting innocent men, women and children slaughtered.
Well, they talk only about Hindus. I have already told you that we will have participation of all weaker and downtrodden sections of society.
I am a religious leader, traveling across the length and breadth of the country, meeting people, addressing them and also interacting with them. I have always made it a point to take their feedback on this particular issue and only after understanding their feelings did I decide to take this step. The Muslim in the villages wants a more aggressive role for the Ulema in politics.
The UDF success story has definitely given us a boost to try out the same experiment in UP.
I have great regard for the Shahi Imam. It was only after obtaining his consent that we decided to proceed with our plans. He promised to join me and other Maulanas representing different Muslim sects for a formal meeting after which we were to address a joint press conference in Lucknow.
However, despite his confirmation Bukharisaheb did not turn up and we had to cut a very sorry figure before the media.
Well, the other founder members elected me chairman and announced my name at the press conference. But Bukharisaheb took that amiss and declared he had chosen not to come because the announcement was made in his absence. Now tell me how were we to blame for that?
He did come only to impose a few conditions before he could finally give his consent. He asked me to resign from the chairman's post and also wanted two constituents to be removed. He said after I stepped down he would make an announcement of my re-nomination for the same position from New Delhi.
While I agreed to resign, I found his proposal for my re-appointment very odd. It seemed very demeaning and melodramatic. Yet I said I would put up his proposals before our executive committee that would take the final decision.
Don't you see this as the first major hurdle in your mission to rid politics of its ills? You seem to be getting bogged down by political games being played by those who are adept at such machinations?
I think these have to be faced and one must be prepared for that.
When Yadavs can rule the state with just 6 per cent population, Dalits can call the shots with 15 per cent and even Jats can grab 15 seats in the UP assembly, then UP's 27 per cent Muslims can also get their share in power.
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