India: Another Muslim political party gets ready

Even as the existing Muslim parties in the country are facing worst ever crisis of their existence, a new Muslim-dominated party is all set to hit the national political arena soon.

If things go according to the plan, the new party may emerge in the second week of March. Backed by India's most prominent religious group, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, the new party would strive for equal rights of the minorities and other weaker sections in the country.

In the recently held local body polls in Kerala, Jamat e Islami had tried its luck in political battle backing several groups such as the Janakeeya Vikasana Munnani, Janapaksha Munnani and Janasevana Munnani. 13 candidates of these groups got elected in the polls while many were runners up.

It emboldened the Jamaat to make its political presence at the national level. The party strategists are even gearing up for jumping into the electoral battle in the forthcoming assembly elections in several states, particularly in Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Tamil Nadu.

Series of hectic meetings across the country are going on to finalise the name and constitution of the new party. Though the party would have no Muslim suffix or prefix, it would largely be controlled by Muslims. However, its door would remain open for non-Muslims too. Some non-Muslims could also get a few top posts in the party.

Though several names are being considered for the new party, the 'People Welfare Party' (PWP), Justice Party of India (JPI) and Welfare and Justice Party (WJP) are strongly being debated in the inner circles of JIH extended group. However, a section is pressing for adopting some vernacular Indian name for the party.

According to sources, under the guidance of the Jamaat, the new party would strive to uphold the basic human rights, and work for the attainment of social, political and economic justice for all.

Besides promoting human brotherhood and moral values, it would also make effort to preserve democratic values and safeguard the rights of religious, linguistic and cultural minorities. The new party would also endeavour to counter all such measures and activities that are detrimental to the basic human rights and values. The Jamaat-backed party would also oppose at every level, 'the way of life based on oppression, exploitation and violence'.

The Jamaat also opposes globalization, FDI, SEZ, abolition of subsidies and the privatization of health care, education and other services. "The most distressing aspect of the present economic condition is the Government's indifference to the values of equity and justice, and its aggressive attitude to promote neo-colonialism and free economy in the country," said its policy paper.

"The new party would promote value-based politics," claimed a senior strategist of the party. When asked as To what is the need for such a party when Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) already exists, pat came the reply from a member of the proposed party, "where is the Muslim League beyond Malappuram?" He said that the new party would be a national party in true sense and would register its presence across the country.

The new party, however, is willing to have coordination with like-minded parties such as IUML and AUDF of Assam. However, sources in the IUML said that it would never go along with the Jamaat-backed party.

The Jamaat had earlier supported candidates of both political fronts in Kerala, but decided to give complete support to the Left Democratic Front in the last Assembly elections. In the last general elections too, it supported the LDF in 18 of the 20 constituencies.

Though the top brass of the Jamaat denied any direct involvement in the formation of new political party, sources in the JIH said it would control the outfit as the RSS does with BJP. (