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INTERVIEW: Saleem Peerzada
“As and when the community desires, it will get a good leadership” 

Indian Muslim Political Conference (IMPC) is an amalgam of intellectuals from all walks of life, working for a political solution to community’s various problems.
Established two and a half years back, the organisation has achieved substantial success in bringing the Muslim leadership on a common platform. In the recent times, IMPC has organised a series of meetings of prominent Muslims and Dalit leaders in view of the lurking challenge on secularism. The last in the series was held on the 16th of August 2002.
Mr. Saleem Peerzada, who is the National convener of the conference is at the forefront of all activities of the organisation. An engineer by training, he left a lucrative career with a multi-national company abroad to carry on with the tedious task of political empowerment of the Muslims. This, he believes was the main motive when Sir Syed Ahmad Khan established the institution at Aligarh. The Milli Gazette had a talk with him shortly after the meeting. Excerpts:
How was the meeting?
All the leaders who participated in this conclave were committed to fighting the fascist and the so-called secular parties from a common platform. There was a frank unision of opinion amongst the leaders on most of the issues. At this juncture, it is the support of the community that will matter the most. Let us hope and pray that the community is with us till empowerment is achieved.

The activities of IMPC seem to be more focussed in the Uttar Pradesh region. Are such efforts being taken in other parts of the country also?
As for as IMPC is concerned, the focus is more in Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh is a politically crucial state where in spite of a sizable Muslim population, the BJP has been ruling the roost. It has been due to the division of votes of minorities, Dalits & secular Hindus. We shall try to consolidate these votes and install a really secular government in the state and the centre eventually.

How successful do you think will be your combination of minorities and Dalits?
India is a parliamentary democracy, where the majority rules. Muslims and other minorities combined with Dalits and other oppressed classes constitute more than 70% of the country’s population. If they join hands politically, they can very well rule the country. It is not a matter of usefulness, it is the right to governance.

The need for consolidation of voters of minorities and other oppressed classes has been felt since long. What has been the experience with this idea?
The first such experiment was conducted successfully by (late) Dr. Abdul Jaleel Faridi, a leader of great abilities. He combined the Muslims and Dalits and took them to the pedestal of governance in Uttar Pradesh. The same combination is being used by Mr. Kashi Ram nowadays, the only difference is that firstly it were the Muslims who provided the leadership which is no more the case.

The community has been constantly ruing about the lack of a powerful leadership. What are your comments?
Leadership is a reflection of the state of the society. I am sure that as and when the community desires, it will get a good leadership.

As the national convenor of IMPC, what has been your experience with the Muslim leadership?
I have my heart-felt regards for the real Muslim leadership, but I have no words of praise for those persons whose communal identity has been time and again misused by the so-called secular parties to provide secular cosmetics to their communal infrastructure.

In the present scenario, when the minorities especially the Muslims are at the receiving end of a determined group of fascists, what according to you should be the approach of the community in particular and the nation in general, towards this challenge?
The community must assert itself socially and politically to fight the menace of saffron fascism. This is our country. No one can be forced to live like a tenant in his own home. We must take the help of other oppressed classes and the right thinking people in the majority community. It is high time that Muslims must lead from the front.

How relevant are Sir Syed’s view in the present contest?
Sir Syed is our ideological guide. We consider Sir Syed as the first political leader of Indian Muslims after the fall of the Mughal empire. In his scheme of things, education was only a means of achieving the ultimate mission of political empowerment of the Indian Muslims. People must understand the Aligarh Movement in its true perspective.

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