‘Political Untouchables’: Grand Alliance in Jharkhand hasn’t Fielded a Single Muslim Candidate

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Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily

RANCHI – Muslims are angry and upset in Jharkhand after the Grand Alliance, which claims to be the voice of minorities, did not field a single Muslim candidate for the Lok Sabha elections in the state which has over 14 per cent Muslim population. It is not just the Grand Alliance but also the Left parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party have refrained from giving a ticket to representatives from the second largest community of Jharkhand.

The Grand Alliance which comprises of Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Jharkhand Vikas Morcha – Prajatantrik (JVM-P) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) finalized their seat-sharing last month. Congress is contesting on 7 seats, JMM 4, JVM 2 and one has been left for the RJD.

Muslim activists have been fighting for the same cause but the struggle has resulted in nothing. Rather, their voice for the representation has been suppressed by slapping a case against them. Recently, 16 prominent Muslim activists were booked for asking political representation in Ranchi. They were accused of breaching communal harmony.

Jharkhand, which has witnessed a large number of mob lynching since the Narendra Modi government came to power at Centre, will go to polls in four phases. Polling in the mineral-rich state will commence from April 29.

“Actually, the so-called secular parties have clearly shown that Muslims are not only vote-bank but are the political untouchables. They are doing what communal party does by not giving a ticket to Muslim candidates. They have played all this game with Muslims and other marginalized sections only to come to power. Fielding, not a single Muslim candidate shows that the Muslim community has become untouchable for these secular parties. Touching or giving tickets to Muslim candidates means that they will be upsetting the Hindus and Hindu hardliners both within the party and outside,” said Ranchi’s prominent Muslim activist Nadeem Khan.

Khan is one of those who had been booked for asking political representation for the minorities. He said, “It is the violation of equal rights and mockery of the constitution. It is our constitutional rights. We want our partnership in power.” He maintained that there are at least two or three constituencies where Muslim candidates would have had a better winning chance.

Jharkhand Student Union’s President S Ali has also been demanding for Muslim political representation. He feels that as Muslims not being considered as candidates by the grand alliance, can further increase the chances of vote deflection and division.

He said, “There are about 53 lakh Muslims in the state and they have been completely ignored. This has made them angry and upset. This anger will end up harming the grand alliance and Muslim will look for other options. It may also cause defeat to the alliance.”

However, Afzal Anis, general secretary of United Milli Forum, Jharkhand, feels that those Muslims who are associated with any political party do not raise their issues. They are not active in social and political activities. He said that the state has witnessed a large number of mob lynching. Most of the victims are Muslims. Yet, Muslim representatives in different political parties had not raised their voice against these incidents. “Only taking tickets for elections and getting defeated will not bring any change,” said Anis. “If anyone wants the ticket of any political party, then he must make his presence felt in political activities. After sleeping five years, you suddenly wake up for the ticket. Will you able to influence the voters?” he questioned.

But Khan and Ali disagreed with Anis. Khan said that this argument is correct only to a certain extent and is a good way to counter the issue. “It does not mean that Muslims should be denied of their representation,” he said. Ali questioned, “If raising questions is the benchmark for getting tickets, then how many times did Rahul Gandhi raise his voice against mob lynching in the last five years. How many times leaders from secular parties have spoken out against it?”

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