I am not here to play negative politics in the name of Muslims, says the leader of yet another electoral front in Bihar.
Meraj Khalid Noor Madani, a businessman-turned-politician is trying to play a role in the upcoming Bihar assembly polls by forming a new front, comprising his party the Awami Insaf Morcha and some other smaller parties.
He was once the darling of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief and former chief minister Lalu Prasad and the Lok Janshakti Party chief and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan to woo Muslim voters.
Noor was in the news last year when he announced that he would contest the Lok Sabha poll against then Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi from Varanasi, but failed to do so as his nomination papers were rejected. He spoke to M I Khan in Patna.
Why you are joining hands with smaller parties rather than running with national or regional parties such as the Congress, the RJD, the JD-U and the BJP to contest the assembly polls?
All parties have been using the Muslims as vote bank only. There is no reason to join a national or regional party to become Muslim leader who will act as a puppet or just a face representing the community.
The successive governments at the Centre and in Bihar have failed to address the issues that directly affect the backward Muslim community. So after much thought, I decided to fight for the Muslims in a positive and constructive way.
I am not here to play negative politics in the name of Muslims.
I have been demanding reservation for Muslims on the basis of the reports of the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra commission reports.
You are no longer sought-after by the RJD chief and Paswan. Isn't it a fact that you were close to Paswan and Lalu in the 2005 assembly polls?
Look, I have decided not to be used by either of these two leaders. I campaigned in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls for Paswan and assembly elections for Lalu in the 2005.
Both used me to woo Muslim voters. I was treated as something special by Paswan and Lalu and was offered to be made a member of the legislative assembly, a member of Parliament and a minister. But they forget me later.
They used me to attract Muslim votes and later left me in the lurch.
In fact, I was so much in demand that Paswan and Lalu would invariably find a seat for me on their campaign helicopters, even if it meant dropping a senior party leader.
Do you support All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asadullah Owaisi’s brand of politics?
It is his brand of politics. My brand of politics is different. But I support some of his views.
Do you think Owaisi will make an impact in the Bihar assembly polls?
Only time will tell. It is too early to predict anything.
Is it feasible for you to go ahead with yet another front when there is already the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and the grand alliance of the JD-U, the RJD and the Congress? Even the Nationalist Congress Party and the Samajwadi Party have announced a third front.
I have decided to join hands with half a dozen parties – for example Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party -- to form a front to take on the NDA and the alliance of the JD-U, the RJD and the Congress in the polls. Our talks are in the final stage with leaders of different parties to clinch a seat-sharing agreement under which we will contest all 243 seats.
There is even the possibility of the SP and the NCP joining us despite having announced the formation of a third front. All these leaders belong to different regions across the state and represent different social support bases; mostly among the marginalised, the downtrodden and the Backwards.
All of us together enjoy support of various social groups that will give us an advantage over others in the polls.
All photographs: M I Khan/Rediff.com