Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Times of India   | Mumbai

Muslim group to float party on May 1

, TNN | Apr 19, 2012, 03.38AM IST

MUMBAI: Dismayed at their continued under-representation in parliament, state assembly and municipal corporations, a group of Muslims in Maharashtra have decided to float a new political party.

To be formally launched on May 1 (Maharashtra Day) at an auditorium in the city, the party is being presented as a "formidable" Muslim-Dalit alliance and an alternative to the Sena-BJP-MNS, Congress-NCP and SP. A retired police officer who claims that he will not fight elections himself will head the party.

The party's 12-member core committee (its name will be announced at the launch) comprises academicians, social activists, Urdu and Marathi journalists, retired cops and bureaucrats and other professionals who have declared no motives other than "service" to the community.

"Muslims count 20% to 30% in over 60 districts and in a few districts, they are even around 40%. Yet, there are just 11 Muslim MLAs in the current assembly. Our interaction with masses in 21 districts so far gives us hope that an alternative political platform in the state is possible," said educationist Salim Alware, a member of the core committee. Other members of the core committee include well-known educationist Mubarak Kapdi, RTI activist M A Khalid, senior Urdu journalists Khalil Zahid and Sarfraz Arzoo, Mumbai Aman Committee's chief Farid Shaikh. The Dalit group is being led by Marathi journalist Baban Kamble.

Dismissing the argument that a separate Muslim party will only strengthen the saffron alliance, Khalid said: "Muslims have been threatened with this argument for too long. Whichever party gets maximum votes of the Muslims, it comes to power. Now, we want levers of power in our own hands." He added that, although Muslims count around 14% in Maharashtra, there is not a single Muslim Lok Sabha member from the state.

"One Muslim (Hussain Dalwai) has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha, but he has no following at the grassroots. There is a consistent attempt to show that Muslim candidates don't win elections and therefore not many Muslims are fielded as candidates in elections," said a former Muslim Congress MLA.

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