KOZHIKODE: Panakkad Syed Hyder Ali Shihab Thangal will be remembered as the leader who diligently steered the Indian Union Muslim League through one of the most trying phases in its chequered history.
The 74-year-old Muslim League chief, who passed away at a hospital in Angamaly on Sunday after battling cancer and other ailments, was respected by people from all sections and political parties. He was always accessible to the public, often lending a patient ear to whoever approached him with grievances.
Hyder Ali Shihab Thangal was born as the third son to Puthiya Maliyekkal Syed Alavi Pookoya Thangal and Ayisha Cherukunhi Beevi on June 15, 1947.When he stepped into public life, his elder brother Syed Muhammad Ali Shihab Thangal was immersed in politics.
Another brother, Syed Umer Ali Shihab Thangal, was overseeing the religious affairs. Hyder Ali Thangal then assisted Muhammad Ali Shihab Thangal in addressing the grievances of hundreds of people who thronged the courtyard of Kodappanakkal Tharavadu.
He took over the reins of the party after the death of Muhammad Ali Shihab Thangal in 2009. The first major crisis he had to tide over was the 'fifth minister' issue in the Oommen Chandy cabinet in 2011. The League demanded a fifth berth in the cabinet, which vitiated the ties between the party and Congress. The issue was sorted out by making Manjalamkuzhi Ali a minister.
In 2017, Hyder Ali Thangal had to make a tough decision while selecting KNA Khader as the candidate for the bypolls in Vengara. There was tremendous pressure on Thangal to field another IUML leader, but he overcame the lobbying.
As the vice-president of Samastha Kerala Jam-Iyyathul Ulema, Thangal succeeded in striking a balance between IUML and the religious body. The ties between the mutually-complementary organisations has never been smooth in Thangal’s time.
Allegations have been raised that a section in Samastha was hobnobbing with the CPM and was directly dealing with the LDF government, bypassing the IUML leadership. There were constant rifts between the two over many issues, the latest being the agitation over the government’s decision to hand over the appointments at Waqf Board to the Public Service Commission.
Samastha was unhappy with the Muslim Coordination Committee which took the decision to hold an 'awareness campaign' inside the mosque. Samastha finally decided to keep a distance from the joint platform but clarified that it will accept the decision if Hyder Ali Thangal convened a meeting of Muslim organisations. Such was the influence he wielded in Samastha.
Hyder Ali Thangal kept a warm relationship with the national leaders of the Congress. Rahul Gandhi had visited Thangal in hospital during his last trip to Kerala. It was the special relationship with the Congress that enabled him to stall the secret moves from within the party to have some kind of ties with the CPM.
Thangal's house in Panakkad was busy on Tuesdays with people from all religions flocking to get their concerns addressed, a practice maintained by all members of the Panakkad family. The post of Pukkolathur mahal-mosque president was the first religious position that Thangal held. Later, he became the president of the Darul Huda Islamic University.
Towards the end of his life, Thangal was pained by the developments in the 'Chandrika' daily after the newspaper was entangled in financial crisis. He had deputed his son Mueen Ali Thangal to find a solution to the issues after the employees at the daily met him personally. The issue even led to the Enforcement Directorate serving a notice on Thangal in his capacity as the chairman of the publication.