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Irshad Mirza U.P. minority body chief
By Masood Hasan

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Governm- ent in Uttar Pradesh succumbed to the pressure mounted by the Loktantrik Congress Party (LCP), an ally of the ruling BJP in the state and reconstituted the State Commission for Minorities appointing Irshad Mirza as its chairman.

Irshad Mirza is a leading industrialist and leather exporter from Kanpur. He is the chairman of the Mirza Tanners Limited which is a big name in Kanpur’s leather industry. He is also the chairman of the Leather Export Council.

The post of the chairman for the commission for minorities was lying vacant and the commission remained virtually defunct after the then chief minister, Kalyan Singh, reduced the tenure of the Commission from three years to one year. The names of other members of the State Commission are yet to be announced by the BJP Government.

The Loktantrik Congress Party (LCP), a major coalition partner of the Government, had been mounting pressure on the Chief Minister, Ram Prakash Gupta, for some time to reconstitute the State Commission for Minorities. Reportedly the LCP had threatened to snap its ties if the commission was not reconstituted soon. The General secretary of the LCP, Siraj Mehdi, who is member of the legislative council, made it clear that if the commission was not reconstituted within a stipulated time, the LCP would launch an agitation. He told this correspondent that the chief minister, Gupta, paid heed to the demand and reconstituted the commission which was a major victory for the LCP. He said that the much awaited Muslim dream comes true because of the LCP. 

The state government has now reconstituted the State Commission for the Minorities but the Government did not reverse its decision to extend the tenure. But when the State Commission was first constituted two decades ago, the tenure of the chairman was fixed for three years keeping in mind to give enough time to its chairman to complete its task with a sense of responsibility.

On the other hand, The State Government had extended the term of the chairman of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission for from one year to three years. This decision of the BJP Government has puzzled the Muslims but the decision to extend the tenure of the Scheduled Castes Commission was taken to placate the BSP with which the BJP is making efforts to have a tie-up in the next Assembly elections scheduled to be held next year.

When the BSP leader Ms Mayawati took the reign of the State in 1997 as per agreement with the BJP for six months, she had appointed Tahir Ashrafi as the chairman of the commission. Ashrafi, who was close to the BSP supreme Kanshi Ram, had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha election in 1996 on the BSP symbol.

But when the power was transferred to Kalyan Singh as the chief minister of the state, he reduced the tenure of the commission from three years to one year in 1998 in a bid to remove Ashrafi from the chairmanship.

But it was the untiring efforts of Siraj Mehdi that the commission was reconstituted giving a sign of relief to the Muslims.

In an informal chat with the newsman after assuming the office of the chairman, Irshad Mirza said that he would try his best to bring all the communities on one platform and he would also try to instill a sense of security among the minorities. Mirza, who is the sixth chairman, took a vow to revive the welfare schemes launched earlier for the betterment of the Muslims.
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