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

AIMMMís Proposal on Secular Strategy

In a statement on 26 February the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat president Syed Shahabuddin proposed the formation of Secular Democratic Alliance (SDA) to consolidate secular voters and force one-to-one contest on NDA, proportional induction of Minorities in the lists of candidates, to raise Muslim representation in Parliament and dispel disenchantment. Following is the full text of the statement:

The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) regards the coming General Election as crucial to the future of Democracy and Secularism and considers it in the national interest that the NDA does not secure a majority or form the next government. The AIMMM also considers that the religious minorities have a vital stake in preserving and strengthening the Secular Order in the coming General Elections. 

Therefore, the AIMMM is of the view that the political objective of the secular voters, as a whole, is, firstly, to liberate Democracy and Secularism from the current state of siege, by defeating the forces of Hindu Nationalism, Fanaticism and Fascism and, secondly, to contain and reverse the growing disenchantment among the religious minorities by raising the level of their representation in the Lok Sabha, particularly of the Muslims, from the existing level of just 45 per cent.

The AIMMM reiterates its appeal to all national and state recognized secular parties to rise above partisan and parochial interests, forget the past and form a Secular and Democratic Alliance (SDA), both at the national level and the State level, with the strongest party at the Central/State level as its national/state coordinator, with a view to give a one-to-one fight to the BJP/NDA, their common adversary.

The AIMMM proposes that even if a formal Alliance is not feasible, each secular party should adopt a policy of self-restraint and contest only those seats which it had won or in which it was a runner-up to the BJP or any of its allies in 1999, thus avoiding intra-secular contest and consolidating all the secular votes in every constituency.

The AIMMM also requests the Secular Parties that, as far as possible, they should field minority candidates from all minority-concentration seats (plus 20%) and in States where there are no such seats, against requisite number of winnable seats which have the highest proportion in the electorate.§

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