They are young and dynamic, educated and refined, and have changed the perception of the Hyderabad-based Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) among Indians across the country.
Imtiaz Jaleel, who won the Maharashtra Assembly election from Aurangabad (Central), and Waris Pathan, who won from Byculla (Mumbai), are in Jeddah for a grand reception organized in their honor on Friday by Ahmeduddin Owaisi’s Bazm-e-Ittehad.
Both are in their early 40s and brimming with confidence to serve the community by raising their issues in the Maharashtra Assembly.
“When I decided to contest the elections on an MIM ticket, I faced intense pressure from those who wrongly thought MIM was a communal party,” said Pathan. “There was a problem of perception. We worked hard to convince the people of Mumbai that we are the most secular party.”
Jaleel, an ace journalist who worked with the mainstream NDTV channel before taking a plunge into politics, faced similar questions from his non-Muslim colleagues and friends during campaigning. He said many had not been opposed to him becoming a politician, but asked why the MIM.
Being a journalist well versed in the art of effectively conveying messages, Jaleel engaged them. “Do you know that the MIM has had a longstanding political pact with underprivileged Hindus, who are referred to as Dalit, in Hyderabad? The MIM was the party that supported and backed Dalit candidates for the mayor’s position in Hyderabad,” he told them.
It was a gradual process, and once journalists started digging up facts about the MIM and its history of community and national service, the tide began to turn, he said.
MIM chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, in keeping with the party’s longstanding philosophy of empowering the underprivileged classes, put up many non-Muslim candidates to contest the Maharashtra Assembly elections. Some of these candidates, although they lost, garnered huge numbers of votes, he said.
“This rankled the so-called secular Congress Party and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) because they realized that the MIM had run away with their vote bank,” said Jaleel. “They considered this vote bank as a given, something they would always get, irrespective of whether they do nothing for their upliftment.”
The victory of the two candidates in Maharashtra elections had a dramatic effect on the country’s political landscape. “While Congress and other parties indulged in running a campaign of calumny against us, we pressed on with the most important issues facing the community,” said Pathan.
“For us, the most important issues are getting jobs for economically deprived Muslims in government and educational institutions and to reclaim waqf (endowment) properties that have been usurped by big businesses and other politically connected entities.”
Jaleel said much of the anger against the MIM has dissipated. “People from all faiths are flocking to join our party. Just three days ago in Aurangabad, dozens of current and former corporators belonging to different castes joined our party,” he said. “People now realize that the MIM is an honest party. Its leadership, led by the charismatic Owaisi brothers, mean what they say and say what they mean.”
Pathan said expectations are high. “We know we have to deliver because like other communities, our youngsters have dreams. They have aspirations. They want to march ahead in a democratic and secular India holding their heads high,” he told Arab News during an informal conversation. “We are building the party’s cadre in Maharashtra. We will definitely do our best to fulfill the expectations of our electorate.”
Jaleel, his wife Roomi, and son Hamza, and Pathan performed Umrah on Thursday. “We are here to thank Allah for bestowing such an honor on us and our party. We are here to pray for those who got us elected,” said Jaleel.
(Courtesy- Arab News)