Bihar Polls: “I lost elections because I carry a Muslim name” says four-time CPI candidate

Interview with Masood Manzar, who is contesting Gaya Assembly Elections for the fourth time on the Communist Party of India’s (CPI) ticket.

Patna (19 October 2015): Masood Manzar is contesting Gaya Assembly Elections for the fourth time on the Communist Party of India’s (CPI) ticket. While Comrade Manzar has lost all previous elections to his BJP rival, who, as he alleged, played the Hindu card against him. This time a considerable section of Muslim voters, constituting 25 per cent of the total population in Gaya constituency, added to his worries by deciding to prefer Grand Alliance candidate over him. The reason for this is their perception that the Grand Alliance candidate was in a better position to take on the six-time BJP MLA Prem Kumar.

At his resident in Gaya, the sixty-two-year-old Masood Manzar spoke to MG on issues including the ongoing Bihar Elections, communist politics and his Muslim identity. He is an advocate, social worker and editor of an Urdu magazine.

Following are excerpts from the interview:

You are regarded as a popular leader in the region, yet you have lost all previous elections.

In the previous three elections, I lost to the BJP candidate because the BJP candidate played the Hindu card on the eve of the election. Despite maintaining a lead till the last moment, I could not win. If my name was Madhusudan Prasad and not Masood Manzar, I could have won election much earlier.

You have a secular image in your constituency but many Muslims said that they would now prefer the Grand Alliance candidate to you as the former is in a better position to defeat the BJP candidate.

I still hope that Muslims would vote for me. Those who make such a statement forget that our party [the CPI] regards communalists as our enemy.

Given the neck-and-neck fight between the Grand Alliance and the NDA, secular voters do not seem to be inclined towards other secular forces such as the Left.

Just as Muslim representation is going down in Parliament, much in the same way it is zero in Magadh region as the Grand Alliance has not given Muslims a single ticket. Contrary to this, the Left has fielded two candidates in Magadh region.  Just as communalism (sampradayikta) is a threat, in the same way casteism (jatiwad) too is a threat, which is being spread by Lalu-ji. Contrary to this, my party is talking about development (vikas) and building a new Bihar.

Despite your claim to uphold right politics and follow the correct line of action, the CPI is in decline.

In the first phase, media made a predication that the CPI was leading from three constituencies in Begusarai district and one seat in Bhagalpur district. We also hope to win Gaya seat.

For decades you have worked with the CPI. Has your identity of being a Muslim as well as being a communist come in conflict with each other at any point of time?

The message of the Quran is to offer food to your hungry neighbours. Communism also teaches the same. Those who argue that Islam and communism are in conflict, have no knowledge about the Quran and communism. Therefore, a true (pakka) communist is a true Muslim.

(First published in Milli Gazette)

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