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Published in the 1-15 May 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Parcham Party's first state meeting

By Rizvi Syed Haider Abbas

The Milli Gazette Online

Lucknow: Aligarh Muslim University is not just a university but a charter of Muslim dreams encapsulated in its’ past and present, and most likely, in future too. A visit to Aligarh is a natural invitation for the images of Mere Mehboob, starring Rajendra Kumar and Sadhna, filmed in the backdrop of AMU, which made youngsters drool for admissions in 1980s even from faraway Kerala, mothers naming their sons after Majaz and Faraz. Poet Shaharyar, who wrote songs for the film Umrao Jaan, may move past you in a rickshaw and historian Irfan Habib, may be found cycling to visit the history department.

Parcham Party president Peerzadah (speaking)

Parcham Party president Peerzadah (speaking)

Amid the silent environs of Aligarh a new movement is gaining momentum. A three -kms drive from the railway station to the Indian Muslim Political Conference (IMPC) office, opposite Allama Iqbal Hall, is a hub where Muslim political standpoint is being studied and formulated. The scene was engrossing: starch-ironed sherwanis and caps, milk-white pyjamas, well-perfumed spotless hankies provided the outward appearance minus the forlorn Urdu poetry. The preparations are for the first convention to be held in Lucknow on 13 April 2005 at Sahkarita Bhawan.

The IMPC has now completed five years under the presidentship of Ahmad Saleem Khan Peerzada and general secretary Syed Ali Ameer. Peerzada, is a civil engineer from AMU who left his job in a multinational company to return to India to serve the community. Ali Ameer is a physician and a former AMU student union president in 1982. IMPC was born on 12 March 2000. 

The IMPC office does not betray the signs of a typical Muslim organisation where even a working telephone would be a rarity. On the contrary the IMPC office is centrally air-conditioned with multiple telephone connections, computers, Internet, audio/video recorders, digital cameras, subscription to over a dozen dailies and weeklies, a well-organised library and a publication on the organisation’s objectives and constitution. This all is coupled with a weekly updated web-site.

Saleem Peerzada is a scion of the family of Martyr Ashfaqullah Khan. He is an angry young man. He has forsaken his marriage and is now full-time in politics. He is known for his ferocious speeches to make Muslims in India, and particularly UP, become politically empowered. Muslims in UP have a sizeable presence in at least 66 assembly seats and in about 130 seats they are a deciding factor. UP has 403 constituencies, the highest in any Indian state.

Saleem Peerzada came down to Lucknow along with Ali Ameer five days prior to the show as on April 13 buses from both the ends of UP started coming in. Representatives from Moradabad, Aligarh, Azamgarh, Unnao, Sharanpur, Allahabad, Daryabad, Fatehpur and Aligarh put up a jam- packed show as even the verandah of the venue was full with activists who had to make do with loud speakers. 

Zafaryab Jilani lauded the efforts of Saleem Peerzada who had been consistent throughout these years using his own personal resources. He called upon the masses to come forward to take up the cause of political empowerment. Bachchu Bhai, freedom fighter from Fatehpur, spoke as to how he helped VP Singh become PM and in return Muslims got nothing. 

Ali Ameer spoke in Sanskitised Hindi to regale the masses and make the convention a veritable composition of Ganga-Jamuna streams. Dr. Hafiz Ilyas from AMU took the occasion to stress the need for Muslims to articulate their political aspirations. The convention found many thought provoking political anecdotes as Dalits were reminded as to how Muslims had withdrawn their candidate in support of Dr. Ambedkar and that Muslims never for once objected to the implementation of Mandal Commission, whereas, the social order which has suppressed untouchables for centuries could not digest and the Upper Caste Hindus started self-immolating themselves to frustate the move to empower the oppressed. 

Saleem Peerzada spoke at length to his party cadres about how the so-called friendly government of Mulayam Singh Yadav has cared to bring to book the police officers who massacred Muslims in Hashimpura and Maliyana in (UP). "How many more years we need to learn our lessons at the hands of the so-called Congress and other secular forces? We have had 40,000 communal riots since 1947 and how many have been punished?," asked Peerzada. 

He took the double-speak of Congress to task. "Look at the indifference of the Congress. When Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) parliamentarian E. Ahmad brokered the safe return of the Indian workers held by Iraqi resistance fighters there was no reward, no reasonable appreciation for him and had the Indian labourers died in Iraq there would have been a heinous reaction. Look at what happened in Nepal where they burnt the premier mosque, opposite the Kings’ palace in Kathmandu. Congress is yet to give any reward to Zakia Jafri, the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was butchered by Hindu fanatics in Gujarat riots 2002."

Parcham Party is spearheading a cadre-building exercise. The party has units in almost a dozen districts in UP. "I am along with my team working full-time and now fortunately the results are becoming slightly visible," Peerzadah said.
How the constituency of Muslims in UP would behave vis-à-vis Parcham Party is only time would tell but owing to its’ single-mindedness it is certainly making the required decibels for a starter. The big question is how many marks would be made on the political smokescreen and until when?
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