A year after elections, Karnataka Muslims question the state government performance
By A Staff Writer
Bangalore: A year after the arrival of the Congress government in Karnataka, the Muslim legislators as well as voters have begun assessing the performance of the S.M. Krishna government. The effort has started in earnest on two levels. While Muslim legislators have floated a Muslim Legislators Forum, the Karnataka Muslim Muttaheda Mahaz (KMMM) has presented a charter of demands based on the community’s needs. It held an interactive session with the ministers and legislators on November 15 here.
Karnataka has currently 13 Muslim MLAs. 12 were elected on the Congress(I) ticket in 1999 election while one elected on the Congress(S) ticket broke away and joined the ruling party later. There are 6 MLCs while three Muslims, C.K. Jaffer Sharief (Bangalore North), I.G. Sanadi (Dharwar South) and Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi (Gulbarga) were elected to the Lok Sabha in 1999. The state has two Muslims MPs in Rajya Sabha i.e., Rahman Khan and C.M. Ibrahim.
These 24 legislators have now formed a Muslim Legislators Forum. Something of this sort existed in Karnataka Assembly during 70s when Dev Raj Urs was chief minister of Karnataka. Mr. Rahman Khan MP is the chairman of the new Forum while Housing Minister Qamarul Islam is the new secretary.
The 24 Muslim legislators have formed a Muslim Legislators Forum to assess their performance in the light of the election manisfesto
The Legislators Forum will present a memorandum to the Chief Minister before Ramadan. At a meeting the Forum decided to take up issues such as awqaf development, Muslim share in employment schemes and sanction of more medical and engineering colleges to Muslim community. (It may be recalled that the state will be adding more seats to computer engineering and Infotech courses which currently stand at an annual output of 9,775 I.T. or computer engineers. This is in view of the release of more job visas under the H1B category by the United States and demand for IT engineers in Germany and the United Kingdom). The Legislators Forum also urged increase in Haj Subsidy.
On another level, the Karnataka Muslim Muttaheda Mahaz has geared up to assess the performance of legislators elected with its effort. The Mahaz mobilised Muslim votes in favour of winnable candidates of secular parties against communal and fascist parties in the 1999 elections.
In a well attended meeting in Bangalore on November 15, the Mahaz urged the Government to increase the allocation for the Action Plan presented by the State Minority Commission. The Government allocated only 1.6 per cent of the Rs. 5,500 crore from the state plan for 2000-2001. The memorandum urged enhancing the Waqf Board grant to Rs. 40 crore, appointment of members of the community to Boards and Corporation other than Waqf, Minority Development, Urdu Academy and Minority Commission. The speakers also pointed out difficulties in procuring certificates for certain castes such as Chapparband, Phulera, Madari, Dervish, Takkara, Qasai, Darzi etc by Muslim candidates to avail the OBC privileges. These castes were common between Muslims and non-Muslims both. It also demanded sanction of Urdu medium TCH and B.Ed colleges as Urdu schools were suffering due to paucity of Urdu teachers. There were demands for allotment of land and construction of Urdu Bhavan and status quo at the tomb of Data Hayath Qalander in Kemmangundi Hills in Chikmagalur district.
Karnataka Muslim Muttaheda Mahaz has put out a memorandum showing gaps in profession and practice
The general mood among Muslims in Karnataka indicates a sense of disenchantment. According to Mahaz convener Mohammad Nisar, the allocation of five portfolios to Muslims is considered to be a lollipop to buy their silence. The tardy pace of socio-economic growth of Muslims in the state, the heavy city-ward exodus of rural Muslim communities, the closure of Urdu schools, the constant decline in representation in jobs etc is unnerving the community.
Housing Minister Qamarul Islam, transport Minister Saghir Ahmed and Jaffer Sharief MP etc who spoke in the interactive session, said the community should also initiate self-help schemes even while seeking Government measures for welfare and development. Sharief urged the Muslims to take up English in a big way to catch up with the Information Technology.
The Karnataka Muslim Muttaheda Mahaz came into being in June 1999 with the express purpose of consolidating Muslim votes in Karnataka. Its forerunner Khadiman-e-Mulko-Millat had assiduously prepared the ground since 1994 elections in the state. The identification of winnable secular votes in each electoral segment-be it in Assembly, Lok Sabha or Civic bodies- by these bodies enabled the Muslims in the state to unify their choice and defeat the candidates from the communal parties. The BJP which was dreaming to capture power in Karnataka in 1999 Assembly elections and make it the gateway to the South of Vindhyachal was stopped in its track with its Chief ministerial hopeful B.S. Yediyurappa kissing the dust in Shikaripur assembly constituency. KMMM’s mobilisation of votes enabled the secular parties to win more than two-thirds of 224 seats.
Desperate to woo Muslims, Mamata makes unrealistic promises
Mohammad Ashfaque in Calcutta
THE Assembly election in West Bengal is barely a few months away. So it wasn’t surprising when the Trinamul Congress supremo and Union Railway minister suddenly realised that Muslims under Marxist rule weren’t being given what they deserved. In a convention organised by West Bengal Pradesh Quami Tanzeem in Calcutta on November 14, she dropped a bombshell of sorts promising 50 per cent reservations in jobs for Muslims in Calcutta Municipal Corporation(CMC) besides giving Urdu the second language status in areas where Muslims constitute over 10 per cent of the population. If the lady found such luring politics not enough for her to garner decisive 26 per cent Muslim votes in next year’s Assembly polls, she came up with another announcement— pull out threat from National Democratic Alliance should Muslims’ interests be harmed by the Central government.
Much to the lady’s dismay, the move has failed to cut much ice. Not only, Muslims have reacted with skepticism to her poll gimmick, her electoral ally, the Bhartiya Janata Party, too has scoffed at Mamata’s utterances aimed at appeasing the Muslims. Talking to this correspondent, Union Minister of State for Telecommunications and former chief of the BJP’s West Bengal unit Tapan Sikdar rejected Mamata’s announcement for jobs reservation for Muslims in the CMC. He added, “it is simply impossible to make jobs reservation on the basis of religion.
I do not know under what context Mamata made these remarks. All I can say is that reservations for a particular community is impossible.” Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary Anil Biswas has described Mamata’s announcement as a poll gimmick saying there was no provision to reserve jobs for a community either in the CMC or the state government. According to Biswas, Mamata’s move smacked of her desperation to woo decisive Muslim vote bank ahead of 2001 Assembly elections in the state. “ She tried to convince the Central government to invoke Article 356 in the state on the false pretext of deteriorating law and order. She did not succeed there. Now she is playing the communal card. However, her true colour is known to all and sundry and she will never succeed in duping the Muslim community,” Biswas added. The Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya refused to comment on Mamata saying “ I don’t lend much credence to what this lady says.” Observers feel that Mamata was desperately looking for excuses to part ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party before elections as she cannot afford to ignore the crucial 26 per cent Muslim votes in the state. So far the Trinamul’s popularity was confined to Calcutta and its surroundings. Ever since she entered into an electorate alliance with the BJP in the state, Muslims, once her ardent admirers, have begun distancing themselves from her.