THANKS TO IB AND ATS'S GROSS CAMPAIGN TO INCARCERATE YOUNG EDUCATED MUSLIMS ON TRUMPED UP CHARGES OF 'TERRORISM', THOSE INNOCENTS LET OFF BY COURTS ARE PICKING UP POLITICS AS THEIR NEXT CAREER CHOICE. INDIA WILL SEE A NEW BATCH OF POLITICIANS GROOMED IN INDIA'S JAILS, JUST LIKE THEIR INDIAN FREEDOM MOVEMENT LEADERS WHO TOO DID A STINT IN BRITISH INDIA JAILS.Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai
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Rajasthan polls: Engineer who was branded terrorist and took on Infosys finds his callingSweta Dutta : Jaipur, Fri Nov 15 2013, 10:12 hrs
Rashid Hussain took over two months ago as the Rajasthan president of the Welfare Party of India, launched in 2011 as the political wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
He accedes to a request to begin his story from the beginning. He was born in Gaya and grew up in Patna, where his father was a psychology professor. His early political leanings were erratic, with the NSUI in his student days and infrequent campaigning for Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD. He went to study engineering in Bangalore, where he continued to gravitate towards politics.
"I could never enter active politics because my father would not hear of it. They wanted me to be an engineer or doctor," he says. "But I always had a keen interest in politics. When H D Deve Gowda became prime minister, he came to Bangalore and threw a party that I attended."
Hussain joined Infosys in 2005. Late in 2006, he was sent to Jaipur as part of a core team to set up operations. "Along with some friends, I set up an NGO called Human Development Society that ran a school and a free dispensary. When the May 2008 serial blasts took place in Jaipur, we set up a camp outside SMS Hospital to provide relief to victims and their families. A few days later, we held a big seminar on ways to combat terrorism."
Life changed forever for him that June 1. A Special Operations Group team barged into his flat in the early hours, ransacked the house — "they found not even seditious literature" — and took him into custody. Over that week when Hussain was being interrogated "over cups of tea, samosa and kachori" and was "cracking jokes and sharing IPL match updates" with the investigators, reports about his "rumoured well-knit terrorist network across the globe" were splashed in the media. He walked free nine days later, but the scandal stuck.
His employer terminated his contract, apparently over issues with his experience certificate. Hussain, with a family to fend for, decided to stand up to Infosys. He filed a legal case that went on for three years until April this year, when a court ruled in his favour, granting him Rs 20 lakh in damages and directing the firm to reinstate him. Hussain, however, had made his choice by then — politics.
He had been a member of the Jamaat since 2008, moved on to the political wing and was named state president. He finds Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal's anti-corruption movement inspiring and says he wants to work on similar lines. "Our party is on the lines of the Aam Aadmi Party; we stand for value-based politics," he says, handing out a pamphlet that draws from its manifesto promising "value based politics, to root out injustice, discrimination, end communalism, casteism and terrorism, a definite plan to eradicate corruption, ban on alcohol, female infanticide and violence against women".
He sees no contradiction of the party's secular ideologies with the Jamaat's religious sentiments. "We are raising the issue of reservation for Muslims and Christians too in the SC/ST categories," he says. "Look at the central leadership of the party, we have Father Joseph Abraham and former minister and Dalit leader Lalita Naik as the party's national vice presidents."
The party's balance sheet shows it in the red. "We must be in debt of over Rs 2.5 lakh but that is how communist parties work. Our 1,000-odd members in the state contribute anything from Rs 10 to Rs. 50,000."
The party was earlier contemplating fielding 20 candidates but decided not to amid the general impression that it would help the BJP by eating into the Congress' minority voteshare. "So we thought of making a modest beginning with just four candidates."
He is optimistic of making a mark in bipolar Rajasthan. "In two-and-a-half years, we have won bypolls and municipal polls in several states including West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. In AP of the 34 seats contested in municipal polls, we bagged 26. Victory will be ours in Rajasthan too."