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It is good that there is change in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalithaa have rooted out the nonperforming communist and the most corrupt DMK-Congress alliance from their states.
Importantly, out of 294 assembly seats Muslims won a significant 59 in WB. In the outgoing WB assembly they were only 46. This is 20 percent representation in the house where Muslims have 25 percent share in the state population. TMC has 25 Muslim MLAs and Congress has 15, remaining 19 are from the Left Front.
Thanks to All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) for an impressive win of 18 candidates, including 2 non-Muslims and one woman. Assam has also sent a high figure of 28 Muslims this time; in 2006 they were only 25 in a 126-member house. Muslim representation in the legislative assembly reached to 22 percent this time where they are 31 percent of the total population. 16 are from AIUDF alone, 8 from Congress, one from Assam Gana Parishad (AGP) and one independent.
Similarly Kerala has also improved Muslim representation in this assembly election from 25 in 2006 to 36. This is 26 percent of the 140-member house, interestingly one percent more than their population share in the state of Kerala. Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has alone sent 20 MLAs to the house.
It would be interesting to see how they are actually going to perform in the next five years. The Muslims are most backward in West Bengal and Assam. And hold on, numerical superiority is no guarantee of actual performance and sometimes a lesser number even performs better
A political analyst from the United States of America applauded the success of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal led AIUDF in Assam. He observes, ‘this is the way to go for Muslims in Indian politics. Form a secular party, control it and include non-Muslims in it. I hope Muslims in other states especially UP follow this example’.
Indeed Maulana Badruddin Ajmal not just deserves congratulations and compliments for this stupendous feat, at a tough time when his own – Arshad Jamiat had deserted him owing to Congress manipulation, but also for showing the way forward to Muslims in rest of the country.
An interesting fact is this, that most of the successful candidates in the AIUDF list are not regular, run-of-the-mill politicians but real representatives of the community. At least four ulama – three of them huffaz, three Qasmis and one mufti, are to be found in this list! This shows that you do not have to give up on your values and community's interests to succeed in politics.
One of my friends puts it in simple way and said, ‘this is the most significant electoral achievement for the community since independence. Muslim organizations, leaders and intellectuals must come together to build on this. Right lessons must be drawn from the remarkable success we have registered in Assam, West Bengal and Kerala’.
Muslims are worst off in West Bengal as compared to other states of India, and even Gujarat fared better! The percentage of Muslims is very low in government jobs and the ever increasing ‘poverty’ among them too is visible to the sympathetic eye. Albeit credit must be given for the absence of communal riots but it is an open secret that violence is a part of Bengali life. All this upset the chances of the ‘secular’ Left, who never tired of singing the Muslim song only in its 34-year-long tenure in the state but the Muslims along with general voters have got an alternative to try their luck — they pushed the EVMs smartly this time and showed the Left its way out.
Remarkably Mamata Banerjee, a post graduate in Islamic History from University of Calcutta, is a product truly made in India – self made. She is not the daughter, sister or wife of a famous politician. She is today where she is all on her own merit. This feisty woman is a good example of true feminism, for her no crisp cotton saris, a la Sonia style and without any trace of make up on her transparent face. Even her worst detractors are now saying that, we will follow Mamata's style of protest!
On the other side – Ajmal, a simple graduate from Darul Uloom Deoband, besides being a son of a rich man – Haji Ajmal Ali, has no political patrimony to inherit. His assets are his undying labour and being with the people in need, even when he has not dreamt about knocking the door which opens to politics. His advantage is his strong faith; he is a silent fighter against all odds.
India needs more such Mamatas and Ajmals… to remain away from the self-proclaimed protectors of minorities such as the Congress which stabs them in the back time and again. Mamata and Ajmal are refreshing breath of hope for the common Indian as well as the ‘deprived’ Muslims. They need to perform well to keep the light of hope burning and alive.
M. Burhanuddin Qasmi is editor Eastern Crescent and director of Mumbai based Markazul Ma'arif Education and Research Centre.