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Published in the 1-15 July 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Reception to Muslim MPs

New Delhi: Muslim Political Council of India organised a reception in the honour of newly-elected Muslim members of Parliament at Constitution Club here on 10 June. Only four out of the 37 Muslim MPs turned up.

Muslim Political Council of India

The MPs who attended the meeting promised to work for Muslims as well as all other down-trodden and backward communities and the entire Indian society. 
The MPs are elected on tickets of different political parties. According to Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi, a Congress legislator from Karnataka, the MPs have their own compulsions, but they have a responsibility towards their community as well. 
President of the Muslim Political Council, Dr Tasleem Rahmani, saw change in the mindset of present Congress-led UPA government. 

Ilyas Azmi, a Bahujan Samaj Party MP from UPís Shahabad constituency said, "We need not be overjoyed by victories or lose heart by defeats. Rather we need to work the moment we get a chance as there is no guarantee which government is going to last for how long." Azmi gave examples of how Muslims were ill-treated even by Congress governments.

Anwar Hussain, MP from Dhubri district of Assam, agreed with Azmiís views and appealed to the council and other Muslim organisations to sit together and chalk out a common minimum programme for Muslims' welfare and present it to Muslim MPs in the next meeting. Muslim MPs in turn would work for its implementation.

The young BSP MP, Mohammad Tahir, who trounced senior Congress leader Capt. Satish Sharma with a huge margin in Sultanpur constituency of UP, was emotional. He spoke like any secular citizen of the country would. Tahir asked people of every religious community to follow their religions and value human values as service to humanity is the greatest mission.

Shoaib Iqbal, MLA from Delhi's Chandni Chowk constituency, who played a significant role in the victory of the Congress candidate Kapil Sibal, spoke about problems of Muslims, Urdu, madrasahs and framing of Muslims under false charges. He blamed the erstwhile NDA government for making false charges against madrasahs. He said no madrasah had ever had a link with ISI or terrorist groups. If the government has any doubt in this regard it should bring out a white paper and involve the intelligence bureau to find out the truth, Iqbal said.

Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi, MP from Gulbarga constituency, who has won for a second time, suggested to have interactive meetings with Muslim MPs, and to discuss issues related to Muslims as well as non-Muslims and marginalised communities which are deprived of their rights. Leaders may have political differences but they should work together for the community and nation, he said.

Javed Habib, president of Bharati Majlis demanded withdrawal of POTA cases against those who were arrested under the draconian law. He said though TADA has been repealed, hundreds of Muslims were still languishing in jails under that law. 

Although all 37 MPs, whether elected for the first time or re-elected were invited to the meeting, only four of them managed to attend it. The rest could not make it for various reasons. 

A section of the electronic media had raised a question before Lok Sabha elections: "What difference is it going to make even if there are more than 50 Muslims MPs?" The answer could be: no difference at all if they do not work for the people who elected them.

ó Manzar Imam

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