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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

SP plans to turn Muhammad Ali into national icon

By Amita Verma

Lucknow: Move over Gandhi, Ambedkar, Sardar Patel, Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi and even Dr Ram Manohar Lohia. Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar is here to be installed in the Indian hall of fame as a Muslim nationalist leader with an unmatched sense of national pride and a secular character of the highest order.

Muhammad Ali (right) and his brothe Shaukat in jail during agitation 

Muhammad Ali (right) and his brother
 Shaukat in jail during agitation 
against the colonial rule

The Mulayam Singh government - after crossing swords with the Congress on the controversial Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar University issue - has now decided to package Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar as an icon of Muslim integrity and sell the concept to the people of Uttar Pradesh.

Letters have been sent to all district magistrates asking them to observe the birth anniversary of Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar on December 

10 in a big way by the Samajwadi minister for parliamentary affairs and urban development Mohammed Azam Khan, whose appointment as pro-chancellor for life in the proposed university has triggered off a political battle in the state. 
The university is proposed to be set up in Rampur - Mohammed Azam Khan's constituency - and will be a centre for higher education in Urdu, Persian and Arabic. The Mulayam Singh government, last week, got the bill for the proposed university passed by the state Assembly despite Congress opposition. The governor, however, is likely to hold back his assent to the bill since he has already objected to the clause that appoints Mohammed Azam Khan as pro-chancellor of the University for life.

The Samajwadi Party now plans to blame the Congress for the obstacles in the setting up of the university and use the issue to consolidate its base among Muslims. 

In his letter, the Samajwadi minister has suggested a variety of programmes, including seminars and exhibitions, befitting the state of Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar. Mr Azam Khan has asked the district magistrates to also ensure extensive publicity of the proposed university among the people. 

The purpose of this exercise is, apparently, to muster public support for the university and pin the blame for the delay, if any, on the Congress which has been strongly opposed to Mr Azam Khan's appointment as pro-chancellor for life. 

For an appreciation of Muhammad Ali’s life, times and his impact, see MG editor Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan’s article on Muhammad Ali in the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second edition (EI2)  

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