|“Vajpayee Himayat Committee”
New Delhi: As elections approach near, Muslim electorate continue to be sitting on the horns of dilemma. Now the political scenario has become worse that for Muslims even the so-called secular parties appear to be working at cross purposes and thus extending their tacit support covertly.
To arrive at a conclusive decision which though is not liked by many Muslims in the country, a newly formed "Atal Behari Vajpayee Himayat Committee" convened a meeting at the capital's FICCI auditorium on 25 March to garner support for prime minister Atal Behari
Himayat committee members at the FICCI meeting from left to right: Dr Ejaz Ali, Maulana Ilyasi and Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
The committee's national convenor Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed said a leader should be mirrored in the light of his character. In the present political scenario no leader seems to be of the stature of Vajpayee, he said adding that after prime minister Pt Jawaharlal Nehru it was Atal Behari Vajpayee who had succeeded in winning hearts of Muslims.
Ahmed said that the purpose of holding the meeting was not to support any particular political party but to present a general view to common people. He said Indian Muslims were not bound to give their support to a particular political party. We have to see all political parties. The role of any party is decided on the basis of its leader. Vajpayee no doubt is a great leader. In order to make progress in all spheres we should elect him for another term, he added.
"Those political parties claiming to be secular had exploited Muslims for their political gains since the division of the country. They continued to propagate that once the BJP was able to come to power it would make all efforts to eliminate the identity of the Muslims, deprive them of their religious rights, close down their institutions and stop offering namaz in mosques. The past six years had, however, proved that the opposition propaganda was completely baseless," Mr Ahmed observed.
Noted Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan suggested Muslims to take a "political U-turn". Though he did not clearly support BJP, he said the mindset of Muslims that they should not vote for BJP must be changed. In order to strengthen the country Muslims will have to take a decision, he said.
Chairman of Bombay Mercantile Bank and former vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Dr Mahmudur Rahman said that the credit for the increase of grant from Rs 80 crore to Rs 200 crore to AMU goes to Vajpayee. Establishment of passport office in Jammu and Kashmir is another great service rendered by him.
President of All India Imam Organisation, Maulana Jamil Ahmad Ilyasi accused the so-called secular parties of misleading Muslims. He called Vajpayee a true well-wisher of Muslims.
Some participants shouted slogans against the speakers who supported BJP and demanded clarification for it.
President of All India United Muslim Morcha, Dr Ejaz Ali said while a section of Muslims was availing political benefits, but in general, condition of Muslims was miserable. He said the question was not as to whom to vote for – Vajpayee or Sonia Gandhi – the question was as to who would take steps for Muslims' welfare. He criticised the Congress for cheating Muslims since independence. It cannot be said with surety that Vajpayee will take measures for Muslims' development, he said adding that if Vajpayee was sincere for progress of Muslims, he should exclude Muslims from Article 314 of the Constitution so that they could avail of reservation and other facilities. If it is done, Muslims will come close to Vajpayee, Dr Ejaz said.
Chairman of Cenral Haj Committee, Tanvir Ahmed asked Muslims to give up negative thinking and adopt a positive attitude. He said that the number of Haj pilgrims had got increased during Vajpayee regime.
Interestingly, the Himayat Committee announced names of several prominent Muslim leaders who supported Vajpayee, but many denied the news. Two teachers of Jamia Millia Islamia, Dr Suhail Ahmad Farooqui and Dr Kausar Mazhari vehemently denied the news of their support. In a written statement, they said that they, along with their department head, Qazi Obaidur Rahman Hashmi, had gone to exchange views on minority issues and that they had not received even formal invitation from the Committee. They further said that the issue of supporting or accepting membership of the Committee was not discussed during the meeting.
Furthermore, Qazi Obaidur Rahman Hashmi, Head of the Urdu department of Jamia Millia himself has denied the rumour of his supporting the BJP. A former IPS officer and Punjab Waqf Board administrator, Dr Manzoor Ahmad, whose name was also announced at the meeting for his support to Vajpayee has also denied the report.
— Manzar Imam
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