MUMBAI: An umbrella organisation of 140 Muslim NGOs has teamed up with BJP to solve issues faced by the minority community in Maharashtra. Justifying his union’s association with the ‘communal’ BJP instead of the ‘secular’ Congress, chief convenor of Maharashtra Muslim Sangh (MMS), Faquir Muhammad Thakur, said: “An enemy is always better than an unfaithful friend. Congress always played politics, infesting fear among Muslims in the name of RSS. We thought we should give it a full stop.”
He believes the problems of lack of drinking water, roads and electricity are common in all communities. “A true religious person can’t choose a wrong path. There is a group in BJP that makes inflammatory statements, but there is another side of the coin too. In BJP, many believe in taking everyone along with them. Our hopes are pinned on them. There is exchange of dialogue. I believe in positivity, not negativity,” said the city-based lawyer.
MMS was established in 2012 to make all Maharashtrian Muslims take up educational and social causes. Initially, it looked at Congress, but realised it was not genuine in keeping its word. In June 2014, MMS decided to go to BJP.
MMS wants implementation of recommendations by the Mehmood-ur Rehman Committee, freeing Wakf Board land from encroachers and enhancing the budgetary allocation for minorities. The Committee was set up by the NCP-Congress government in Maharashtra to look into the social, economic and educational backwardness of Muslims. It recommended 8 per cent reservation for them in government jobs, education and housing in the state, apart from other measures.
“In Maharashtra, Muslims, Christians, Jains and Buddhists constitute 30 per cent of the population. Yet, the budgetary allocation for them is less than that of SCs. We want the provision of funds for minorities to be at par with that of SCs,” says Thakur.
“Maharashtrian Muslims are direct descendants of Prophet Muhammad. They have been in India for 1,400 years. North Indian Muslims are descendants of Mughals, who came 800 years ago,” explains Thakur.
He, however, does not back the RSS-affiliated Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), which also works on Muslim’s issues. “I differ with MRM’s idea of Muslim scholars. Those who are with MRM don’t have any acceptability in the community,” he says.
He rules out joining BJP. “Once bitten twice shy. Congress gave importance to people who did not have any acceptability among Muslims. These people did not look beyond their vested interests. We will watch BJP closely, but never join the party as it will wipe out our existence,” Thakur says.