90 percent of Muslims are supporting JD-U, RJD-Congress-led Grand Alliance: Imarat-e Shariah

An Interview with Maulana Anisur Rahman Qasmi, General Secretary of Imarat-e Shariah Bihar & Orissa

Patna, Maulana Anisur Rahman Qasmi is the General Secretary (Nazim) of the Imarat-e Shariah Bihar & Orissa and a former chairperson of the Bihar Haj Committee. Hailing from Bettiah, the headquarters of West Champaran district in Bihar, before getting associated with the Imarat-e Shariah, the Maulana completed his education at Darul Uloom Deoband and earned a degree of Mufti. As the Bihar Assembly elections assumes much importance, Abhay Kumar interacted with Maulana Anisur Rahman Qasmi at his residence in Qazi Nagar within a walking distance from the main building of the Imarat-e Shariah in Phulwari Sharif which is considered as one of the most prominent and influential Muslim institutions in Bihar and India. Following are excerpts of the interview:

In Bihar polls, what are the issues and options before the Muslim community?

We want better representation for Muslims. It should be proportionate to their population. At the same time we have also made clear that we want our demands to be addressed only by the secular alliance [JDU-RJD-Congress-led Grand Alliance or Mahagathbandhan]. We have taken this decision after  carefully studying the manifesto and programmes of the secular alliance. Besides, we request people to vote on the basis of ideology (nazaria) and not on the lines of caste. For example, before voting for anyone, we should inquire if the candidate is tainted by charges of corruption or not. Moreover, the current Bihar Government has provided security to people and it has managed to keep the situation under control despite the fact that anti-social elements are trying hard to create tension in Bihar as they did in Dadri. The government and administration of Bihar continue to remain vigilant to ensure that any untoward incident should not take place.

But the AIMIM and the SDPI, whose social base is largely Muslim, are also in the race in Bihar. Will they succeed in getting Muslim votes?

Imarat-e Shariah wants good people to enter legislative bodies, irrespective of the fact if one is a Hindu or a Muslim. Before supporting any party, we look for two things—first, ideology (nazaria) and second, work (kaam). As for as AIMIM’s ideology is concerned, it may be similar to that of secular parities but it has not done sufficient work so far in Bihar. The Muslims of Bihar have accepted one particular ideology [of the grand alliance] and they continue to support it.

But fears are expressed that Muslim votes may split.

To a very small extent, it may go to parties and candidate other than the grand alliance due to individual and family relations. But I think 90 per cent of Muslims are supporting the secular alliance [the Grand Alliance]. To an extent, Muslim votes may go to the allies of the BJP such as the HAM and the RSLD because their manifestoes are secular. In the 2014 General Elections, such a phenomenon was seen when Mehboob Ali Kaiserwon on LJP ticket from Khagaria. Besides the secular ideology of the LJP, Qaiser was seen as a good candidate who had not hurt anyone.

What has Imarat-e Shariah done for safeguarding the interests of Muslims?

Whatever we had to do we did and it is up to the people to act now. Through different methods of communication, we have ensured that people are informed about our views and our views are not hidden. Our stance is clear that we are against fascist and communal forces. Such ideologies are against the interests of the general masses including Muslims. Thus, we talk about Hindu-Muslim unity as seen in the 1920s during the Khilafat Movement and afterwards.

It has also been alleged that the twenty-five year rules of the forces of social justice has not done sufficient work for Muslims.

Secular governments have been in power since 1947 for most of time. Muslims sometimes got justice and sometimes not. Yet, our approach is not to divide society but to take all together. There is a need to strengthen the secular forces, which should work for ensuring the representation of each and every section as per its ration in the population. This [proportional representation] has not been implemented in our society so far. As a result, some sections of society are becoming overrepresented while others are left out. Such phenomenon is seen both among Hindus and Muslims.

Some Muslims allege that Yadavs and Muslims are major social-base of the Grand Alliance but when it comes to ticket distribution, Yadavs get a much larger share, while Muslims have to contend with what is offered to them.

All sections should get equal representation. Rajputs, Brahmans and Bumihars are over-represented and this imbalance should be corrected through other means including sending those who are not adequately represented, to legislative councils, Rajya Sabha etc.

While many Muslim organisations are demanding reservation for Muslims, such demands do not seem to figure on the agenda of the Imarat-e Shariah.

This is not our job but the job of political parties in Bihar. Many people are unaware of the fact that 50 lakh Muslims in Seemanchal region, around 90 per cent of the total Muslim population, are benefiting form reservation.  However, the Government should include the Shaikh community among Muslims into the category of reservation as per the guidelines of the upper caste commission (svarna ayog). Similarly, Khans and Syeds should also be brought under reservation.

But what about the major problems of educational backwardness and declining share of Muslims in jobs?

More work should be done. More institutions should be opened up. There is a need to spread educational and social awareness.

As you have served as a chairperson of the Haj Committee, your critics consider this as the main reason why your capacity to fearlessly criticise the ruling government has been substantially reduced. What do you have say about this?

There is peace (amn) in Bihar. Criticising anyone, including the government, for the sake of criticism is not the right thing.

(First published in Milli Gazette)

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