Presidential Address by Mr. E. Ahamed, President, IUML
My dear colleagues, delegates from various parts of our country and dear friends.
Al hamdulillah - All Praises to Almighty Allah! At the very outset, I praise the Almighty Allah for His immense blessing in giving this opportunity to stand before you to deliver the presidential address in this National Delegates’ Conference of Indian Union Muslim League. The surging emotions make me feel humbled and let us rededicate ourselves to the services of the country, the ummah and our great organization. I vividly remember the National Delegates Meet we had in this city in June 2003 and share the deep sorrow on the sad demises of stalwarts like Syed Mohammedali Shihab Thangal and G.M. Banatwalla, who were among us with their inspiring insights. May Allah bestow upon them the eternal bliss. The vacuum created by their absence cannot be filled in; but their exemplary life is before us. Let us take the pledge to carry on their mission by upholding the unity of our community, the integrity of our nation and the dignity of our organization.
This venue has been named after late Syed Mohamedali Shihab Thangal. He was a tower of strength, compassion and consideration. The very remembrance of him fills in us a sense of togetherness and dedication. We are fortunate to have here his brother Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal, a natural successor of a great tradition, who is capable of leading our community to the cherished goals. Let us resolve to strive hard for our beloved organization. The caravan of IUML will go on and the posterity would remember us with fondly gratitude.
When I look back to the annals of history, I think we have been greatly indebted to our founder leaders who weathered all the storms to uphold the party and its green flag afloat in our country. At a time of great trials and tribulations, when the country and community were strewn with the disquiets of the partition, in the changed political circumstances surcharged with emotion, late Quaide Millath Mohamed Ismail Sahib with his trusted colleagues, K.M. Seethi Sahib, Mehaboob Ali Baig, K.T.M. Ahammed Ibrahim Sahib and their few colleagues decided to organize Indian Union Muslim League to be the national political platform of Muslims and other weaker sections of the country. It was the vision of late Quaide Millath which had spread throughout the country to have a political party for the “honourable existence” of our community. The pioneers had shown the way. May Allah accept their deeds and guide us in right direction.
It goes to the credit of our party that we have representation in Parliament of our country ever since its inception. In 1952 to 1957 we had only one member in Lok Sabha, late Janab B. Pocker Sahib, the soft but stern voice of that barrister from Malabar had telling influence on law making of the nation at every important occasions. Since then we had our leader in Lok Sabha, late Quaide Millath Mohamed Ismail Sahib, Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait Sahib, C.H. Mohamed Koya Sahib, S.M. Shareef Sahib, A.K.A. Abdussamad Sahib, Abu Thalib Choudhery from Murshidabad, G.M. Banatwalla, Prof. Khader Mohiyidheen were our leaders who served in Lok Sabha. I humbly submit, by the grace of Allah, I am also a member of Lok Sabha serving my sixth term with my other colleagues, E.T.Mohamed Basheer from Ponani and Abdurrahman from Vellore. At present we have three M.Ps in Lok Sabha, Abdurahiman from Vellore, E.T. Mohamed Basheer from Ponnani, and myself from Malappuram.
In Rajya Sabha too, we had our members. Late Quaide Millath Mohamed Ismail Sahib, Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait Sahib, A.K.A. Abdussamad Sahib, A.K. Rifayi Sahib, Khaja Mohiyidheen, B.V. Abdulla Koya Sahib, Hameed Ali Shamnad Sahib, M.P, Korambayil Ahammed Haji and Abdussamad Samadani, were our representatives in various periods. Now P.V. Abdul Wahab Sahib from Kerala is our representative in Rajya Sabha.
Needless to say that the yeomen services of our leaders as Members of Parliament had enhanced the prestige of our party. Their contributions to the law making process and their timely and scholarly interventions in the affairs of the State at different times provided us the basis and guidance for the formulation of our policies, perception and approaches. The proceedings of the Parliament are replete with instances of their vision and Statesmanship and we are proud to have such great personalities as our leaders.
Since the party was formed on 10th March 1948 at Chennai the founder leaders Quaide Millath Mohamed Ismail Sahib with the able assistance of his General Secretary, K.M. Seethi Sahib took pains to organize the units every where. The South Indian States Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka came forward to carry the mission, thanks to the commitment and courage of the popular leaders in these states. However, the party could not fare well in Northern States for the reasons we all know well because the partition and its after effects had created such an atmosphere as many people were afraid to identify with the Muslim League. Anyhow slowly we were taking root in almost all States.
The passing away of Quaide Millath in 1972 was a blow to the party and setback for the growth of the party. Fortunately for us, the next President Syed Abdurahiman Bafakhy Thangal, the architect of coalition politics in Kerala was the undisputed leader of the community who brought our organization in close organization with the national parties. The meetings taken place between Syed Abdurahiman Bafakhy Thangal and the then Prime Minister and President of Indian National Congress, late Smt.Indira Gandhi was a very important political event and turning point for the democratic parties in Kerala. This meeting between two political stalwarts stabilized the political alliance of democratic parties under United Democratic Front in Kerala on the one hand, and on the other hand cemented political alliance between the Congress and Muslim League.
Syed Abdurahiman Bafakhy Thangal left us in 1973 made the party grief stricken. Ibrahim Sulaiman Sait Sahib was the next President; but differing on political stance and approaches he quit the party on his own volition to nourish his own political baby. Late G.M.Banatwalla who was one of the most accomplished Parliamentarians of our country became the president of our party. And after his death in 2008, the mantle reached on my shoulders by the party electing me as the President. Comparing with the stature of my predecessors, I have nothing to claim, but I seek the strength and stamina from you. Together we can move to the future, we can hand over the mission of leading the community to our posterity so that they may take up it with pride and honour.
I have immense pleasure to share with you certain important matters. As a party we are the part of UPA and have a place in Union Cabinet. I am privileged to have the Minister of State consequently twice. For me this is not a matter of personal euphoria, but I think this as a token of the recognition of the role of our party in national politics and a reward for the efforts of leaders of yester years. In brief, empowering our community politically and mobilizing the people on secular democratic lines, we have a cardinal role to play and a bright future is ahead.
Let me have a quick look back to the history of 50 years. In 1960 our leader K.M. Seethi Sahib became the Speaker of Kerala Legislative Assembly. After the dismissal of the Communist Ministry of Kerala - 1959 consequent on the historic liberation struggle in which IUML had a role in alliance with Indian National Congress and Praja Socialist party, the election in 1960 saw the emergence of a United Front. Though we have been denied of a berth in the Ministry our party opted not to quit the front but to accept the Speakership in the wider interest of the State. It was the beginning of a new era. Gradually we have been active in coalition politics and at least in Kerala we have become an indispensable political force. In 1967, late C.H. Mohamed Koya and MPM Ahamed Kurikkal became the Ministers in United Front Ministry headed by E.M.S. Namboodirippad. Strangely enough CPM and its spokesmen always say that CPM made the League members as Ministers for the first time. But they have to remember that it was the support of the League with its mass base made the Front succeeded to form the ministry. After the split of the Communist Party both CPM and CPI were not in a position to come to power and the interim election of 1965 was an eye opener, so that CPM aligned with IUML and other parties in 1967. The Ministership of IUML was not a donation of CPM, but the eventual ascendancy of IUML itself to the offices of power on the strength of popular support.
In Kerala we could muster our strength due to the farsightedness and pragmatism of the leadership and the vibrant party machinery. This is a model to be emulated every where. Many of our leaders became Ministers of Kerala, C.H. Mohamed Koya Sahib, M.P. Ahamed Kurikkal, K. Avukaderkutty Naha, Chakkeeri Ahamed Kutty Sahib, U.A. Beeran, P.K. Kunhalikutty, E.T. Mohamed Basheer, C.T. Ahammed Ali, P.K.K. Bava, Dr. M.K. Muneer, Nalakath Soopy, Cherkalam Abdulla, K. Kutty Ahamed Kutty, V.K. Ebrahim Kunju were the Ministers in Kerala after 1967. I also had the opportunity represent the Muslim League in Kerala Cabinet from 1982 to 1987. It was recognition of our party.
Apart from K.M. Seethi Sahib, K. Moideenkutty Haji and Chakeeri Ahammed Kutty were Speakers of the Kerala Legislative Assembly. M.P.M. Jafar Khan, K.M. Hamza Kunju and Korambayil Ahamed Haji were Deputy Speakers in various periods.
We have to remember late A.K.A. Hassanu Zaman Sahib, who was a Minister in West Bengal in 1970. He was elected thrice to the West Bengal Assembly. In Tamil Nadu also we had MLA and MLCs, that tradition goes on till today. In UP, Pondichery, Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka too, we had MLAs. In Corporation of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Calicut, Cochi, Thiruvananthapuram we had Corporators and we had a great number of members in Municipal councils, Zilla Parishads and Gram Panchayats.
In the history of IUML we have two perceptible watersheds. Once it was in 1979, when C.H. Mohamed Koya became the Chief Minister of Kerala. Though it was for a short spell, it was a morale booster to the party. Second, it was the induction of a Muslim Leaguer in Union Cabinet in 2004. It was recognition of our party’s consistent stand on secular democratic and undiluted commitment for communal amity and religious harmony.
We have to commit ourselves to organize our party with the lofty ideal of political empowerment of our community and to resolve to strengthen the secular democratic structure of our country. We have a message. United we stand we will be adored by everybody. With faith, unity and discipline let us march forward.
After assuming the Presidentship of the Party, myself and co-office bearers, with the active co-operation and assistance of State leaders, are striving hard to organize the party. As we all know we have limitations and dearth of resources. We do our best to have effective units in all the states. Here we are, to assess the situation and to formulate strategies to go forward. I hope the deliberations we initiate here will bring a blue print for the future course of action.
As the President of Indian Union Muslim League, I am very optimistic and my colleagues and our dear delegates will be sharing my hopes and aspirations. I owe very much to the team of the office bearers, our General Secretary Prof. Khader Mohiyideen Sahib, Treasurer Dasthagir Agah, Vice Presidents Adv. Ahammed Baksh, Adv. Iqbal Ahamed, Secretaries Abdussamad Samadani Sahib, Naeem Akhther, Ismail Banatwalla, Shahinsha Jahangir and Khorrum Anees Omer. By the grace of Allah we had meetings with our State leaders and could initiate effective measurers to strengthen our party at every level.
In Kerala under the leadership of Hyderali Shihab Thangal and P.K. Kunhalikutty the Party has been making tremendous impact. Dispelling all the machinations and unholy alliances of CPM, our party could win both the Lok Sabha seats again and the prospects of returning of the UDF in the 2011 election are apparently bright. In bye election to the State assembly and to Local Self Governments, the strength of IUML and UDF is proven very often. I am happy to say that in Kerala, our Party still remains to be a stabilizing force in the United Democratic Front.
In Tamil Nadu under the leadership of Khader Mohiyidheen Sahib and youthful K.A.M. Mohamed Aboobacker the Party is gaining strength. The winning of the election by Abdurahiman Sahib from Vellore with the support of DMK is worth mentioning. Tamil Nadu unit of the Party recently organized three day camp for youth leaders at Thanjavoor which will definitely be rewarding.
I had toured various States. In Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Delhi, Assam and Maharashtra, we have reorganized and the present Committees are working hard. In Puducherry, Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Lakshadweep, organizational work is being undertaken to form new Committees. I hope this Delegate Conference will give impetus to the grass root level organizational work in coming years. We plan to have national conventions periodically to monitor the progress of our efforts and to take stock of the political situation.
We are now at an important juncture. Our responsibility is more onerous and exacting. Our leaders have shown the judicious way of having our presence felt with dignity and honesty. The political road we have chosen is the right one to safeguard the interests of our community and country. Our great faith, Islam, teaches us tolerance and peace, and exhorts us to strive for the best. We have been commanded to stand by the truth, endurance and compassion. Indian Union Muslim League has ever tried to unite the people of the country along secular democracy and religious harmony. Long years ago in 1971, under the leadership of Quaideh Millat Mohamed Ismail Sahib, in this city of Bangalore IUML had resolved and urged the people to support secular democratic forces. We have never deviated from that path. IUML has been doing whatever possible at its command to help the secular forces of the country. In the elections last year we have seen remarkable support to the UPA. Of course this was due to the positive swing of the Muslims and other minorities to the UPA. Indian National Congress has got 28.6% of total votes and increase of 2.1% from 2004 despite many former allies looked the other way.
And again we have to note the miserable performance of BJP and the consequent disarray in that party. It is seen that the anti - muslim rhetoric would not help them any more. It is a very positive development that the people of our country cannot be won over by parochial communal interests. BJP has lost 3.6% of votes compared to that of 2004. This is a comforting development as for as the religious minorities are concerned. We have to expose the extreme fascist communal stance of the Sangh Parivar outfits which threaten the composite culture and civic life of our country.
And the self styled champions of the downtrodden, the left parties, especially the CPM, have also been forced to face the realities. The CPM which has been spiting venom on IUML, stoops to any low to weaken the popular base of IUML, met with defeats in their bastions of West Bengal and Kerala. Their strategy to garner Muslim votes by merely resorting to boost up sentimentalities of Muslims will no longer help them. Their miserable failure to deliver goods to the down - trodden has been exposed by the factual findings of Sachar Committee. The plight of Muslims in West Bengal is most pathetic, the State Government have no programmes for ameliorating the situation and the CPM leadership is virtually unsympathetic. In Kerala too, where the presence of Muslim League is so strong, the CPM led LDF Government has not come forward to address the problems related to minorities. Instead of initiating action on the recommendations of Sachar Committee, they have appointed Paloli Committee which draws a zero performance to the dissatisfaction of even its own members. The apathy and insensitiveness of CPM leaders are very glaring.
When we assemble here and think over the affairs of our community and country, we have to take into consideration many factors. The incidents of terrorism and its strife put the community in a very awkward position. No Muslim can subscribe to any form of terrorism which kills innocent people. The blood shedding violence has to be abhorred. Islam teaches peace and coexistence and any attempt to disrupt the life is against our faith and values. We have to imbibe democratic way of life and we will not be a part of making dissensions and divisions among people. We are Muslims and we are Indians. We have to live up to our great faith and also as honourable citizens of the great country. If we have crises to tide over, or problems to solve we will not resort to methods that make the crises worse and the problems unsolvable. Any impulsive and emotional upsurges will weaken us in the long run. At the same time, the efforts to tarnish the image of muslims and to make them suspects in the eyes of the world by some vested interests have to be contained. The vicious propaganda against Mulsim will not bring anybody anything.
Let us have a look at the current national scenario. As we know the Liberhan Commission report has exposed the evil designs of Sangh Parivar to grab power inciting communal hatred. The culprits who demolished Babari Masjid, the four century old place of worship, should be punished and justice done to Muslims. Now the Ranganath Mishra Commission report is with the Government. We hope the UPA will do it best to keep its promises to the minorities and weaker sections of the country. IUML has to mobilize public opinion to get the recommendations of Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission implemented. IUML urges the Government to take effective administrative measures to make Muslims and other backward communities capable of coming up with tangible progress in fields of education, employment, representation in governance and the infrastructure development.
IUML strived hard to have a progressive and vibrant muslim community making use of every circumstance for the educational advancement and social development of the community.
For many reasons, contemporary history of Indian Muslims is on distinct a trajectory. What makes it different from the past is the newfound political assertion of the community under the UPA regime. On one side, the community has constantly been the target of Hindutua organizations. It is a painful reality that many Muslims live with the mounting wave of baseless accusations as they belong to a particular religion. On the positive side, Muslims as an oppressed community across the country have come to look on affirmative action earnestly initiated by the UPA government as a tool to overcome our situation.
However, on the whole the picture is not so rosy. With the upsetting phenomenon of ‘extremism’, our community is pushed further to the margins. Anti-Muslim forces make it a point to dis-empower the community further. This has been manifested through the alleged denial of accommodation to Muslims in certain areas and refusal to employ Muslims in certain firms.
We know that a negligible section within the community is partly responsible for this pathetic situation. Instead of actively seeking to engage in the political and social empowerment of Muslims or seeking to address real issues of poverty and underrepresentation, they prefer to capitalize on emotional or controversial issues. The extremists contribute in a big way to validate the position being inculcated by the anti-Muslim forces. What they do can never be defined in the spirit of Quran as the Holy Book stands for amazingly broader range of tolerance and pluralism. Zero tolerance to others’ faith is not the way of a true believer. Muslim League is of the firm view that this situation can be overcome only through a concerted political process with the firm support of secular forces in the country who always stand by minority.
What we really need is a complete engagement in the mainstream politics. It is a startling truth that almost 60 years after Independence the country has failed to ensure full-scale participation in governance for its largest minority Muslims. Particularly since the submission of Sachar Committee report, issues relating to the social and political status of Muslim minority community have been a matter of heated debate at the national level.
The context in which the Sachar Committee made its findings public is significant. There is a sustained campaign by Hindutua oriented Sangh Parivar and its political arm, BJP accusing congress of promoting a policy of Muslim appeasement. There is a concerted move from many corners to insinuate Muslim community as politically and socially anti-national. The prime intension of this Sachaar Committee, thus, was essentially to analyze issues relating to identity, security and equity. Of which issues related to equity gained special emphasis.
The UPA government has taken some remarkable steps to address the first two issues- of identity and security. But the issue of equal opportunity continues to remain as a stumbling block. Equity or equal opportunity is a major pillar of a just society. A reasonable representation of various communities in government sector employment sector is necessary to enhance participatory governance in a pluralist society. However, the data shows that the country is far from attaining such a goal. Various reports show, though Muslims have a share of 13.4 per cent in the country’s population, their representation in government jobs is a mere 4.9 per cent. The under-representation is acute in states in which Muslims constitute large minorities. In West Bengal, where Muslim community forms 25.5 per cent, the representation of the community in government jobs is less than the national average.
Another issue to which we need to pay our urgent attention is the long-held and unjustifiable imprisonment of Muslim youth in various parts of the country. In Maharashtra, Muslims who make up 10.6 per cent of the population of the State constitute 32.4 per cent of the total number of prisoners. While there is no justification for the crimes committed, the reason why Muslims add up to the crime statistics has to be seriously analyzed. As far as the situation in Gujarat is concerned, although there are several disturbing reasons for the high crime rights among Muslims, it is alleged that police and investigating agencies are armed with their biases. The draconian laws implemented in this state have been largely responsible for the increase in number of arrests of Muslims in Gujarat. Since majority of the Muslim youth do not have access to good lawyers to defend the cases in Court of Law, many of them languish in jail for years. The alleged torture and other forms of human rights violations to extract information are part of their miserable existence. What Muslim League has got to demand in this context is a fair trial for all accused and kept in jail in many crime cases or set them free. Muslim League will never support violence or violation of law and order or any anti-national activities, but at the same time everybody who faces charges of crime should be given a fair trial without delay. The unlawful imprisonment often leads to cultivate an ill-feeling among the youth in our community.
Muslims are also under the worst-hit of development deficit. In many States like West Bengal and Gujarat de-development in Muslim areas becomes often state sponsored programme. Besides it, there is a widely-held misconception often being circulated by the anti-Muslim forces that the community and its doctrinal orientation are not compatible with new technology. This is not true by all means. Historically, we have constantly been on the forefront in appropriating the technological innovations. And what we witness at present is to the increased engagement with the new technology. This trend is very apparent in places like Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Unfortunately, the vigor gets reduced when we move further north. The engagement with the new technology and globalizing means of communication seems to be a stepping stone leading to the community empowerment. Mastering technology leads to representation which essentially opens ways to power. The indifference to technology, on the other, hand brings the community to negative stereotyping and marginalization.
Let me conclude. Here we have with our noble mission of Indian Union Muslim League. We have to show our people the right path and help them to grow as the ‘best community’ as the Holy Quran envisages. We have been indebted to our great leaders for giving us this organization. It is our duty to strengthen our party and lead the community to new heights. We have to equip our new generation with courage and conviction to face new challenges.
We have to build up our organization. It has been proven that our political line has withstood the acid tests of the time. Our secular democratic outlook, our struggles for social justice and our avowed commitment to religious harmony are the basis on which the edifice of our organization has been built up.
We have to chalk out programmes of action to have frontal organizations to strengthen our party. Students / Youth / Women organizations and trade unions have to be set up on all India basis. State units of the Party and its feeder organizations have to be strengthened. We can concentrate our efforts on select areas taking in to consideration the relative viability. We have to develop a network of communication and take efforts to project our organization at its best in media.
These are my stray thoughts. I take the opportunity to invite all of you to share your views and to participate in deliberations. At the conclusion of this Conference we have to evolve a plan of action, Vision - 2020, a road map for our concerted action for one decade. May Allah help and guide us all - Ameen. With deep gratitude to you all, who are here from the different parts of our country, let me conclude.