KOZHIKODE: In a canny political move that left the IUML in a quandary, the state government has dropped its decision to entrust the recruitment to the Waqf Board with the Public Services Commission (PSC).Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced in the assembly on Wednesday that necessary amendments will be made to the controversial Kerala PSC (Additional Functions As Respects the Services Under the Waqf Board) Act, 2021. Replying to a submission by IUML leader P K Kunhalikutty, Pinarayi said the government had convened a meeting of the representatives of Muslim organisations to discuss the recruitment issue.
“The government in-principle agrees to the unanimous opinion at the meeting,” he said. The amendment will put in place a system to recruit qualified persons to the Waqf Board, he said.The Act was passed last November drawing deep resentment from the Muslim community. But the IUML and Samastha Kerala Jam-Iyyathul Ulema were moving in different directions on the issue. In December 2021, the Muslim Coordination Committee led by IUML called for raising the issue in mosques during Friday prayers, but Samastha president Syed Muhammad Jiffiri Muthukoya Thangal objected to the move, saying it was unnecessary.
Samastha’s decision had poured cold water on the agitation though the IUML went ahead with the protests against the government. On his part, Jiffiri Thangal asked the government to convene a meeting of Muslim organisations to discuss the issue. At the meeting on April 4, 2022, the government assured that the sentiments of the community will be considered before taking a final decision.
Waqf: Samastha elated over CM’s announcement
The IUML refused to take the assurance for granted while Samastha said it was satisfied with the promise. Waqf Board issue remained a major bone of contention between the two organisations.The Samastha camp is elated over the Chief Minister’s announcement and upholds it as a victory of their leader Jiffiri Thangal. Reacting to the news, Thangal told reporters that Pinarayi had personally given him an assurance that no steps would be taken that will adversely affect the Muslim community.
Asked about the IUML agitations, Thangal said being in the opposition, the party is entitled to hold political agitations. Pinarayi, by holding direct talks with Muslim organisations, eliminated the IUML from the scene, which was till then acting as a mediator on the issue. And he came closer to the Samastha, the main vote bank of the IUML.
Meanwhile, IUML state president Panakkad Syed Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal said government’s withdrawal is the collective victory of the Muslim community and his party had a role in the agitations. “Our stand was that since the decision to leave the appointments was introduced in the assembly, the amendment also should be announced there,” Thangal said.
He said that the IUML legislators had raised the issue in the assembly many times and the party had held a big rally in Kozhikode. “The withdrawal by the government is also a political victory for the IUML,” he said.