On November 22, the first week of the winter session of the legislative assembly, BJP leader 50-year-old Syeed Pasha Patel Pasha will hold a rally with the support of one lakh Muslims demanding the implementation of Sachar recomendations in Nagpur. He is the only Muslim MLC from Maharashtra BJP.
His campaign – begun this August – with backward Muslims all over Maharashtra, is changing the colour of the socio-political atmosphere in rural Maharashtra.
Both the BJP and Shiv Sena are strongly against implementation of the Sachar Committee recommendations.
On a bulky, old-fashioned microphone Manohar Chowdhury, district president of the Shiv Sena, however, announced Pasha’s arrival – “Mussalmano ka Masiha, Aamdar Pasha Patel…” earlier this month. Is this pitch a strategy of votebank politics?
Patel is unfazed by the official line of his party as well as its ally. “Eleven per cent of Maharashtra’s population is Muslim of which 2% is employed, there is 0% represention in judiciary, less than 4% in police department, 90% uneducated and 35% in jail. Now stop blaming others for everything and send your children to school,” says Pasha to the gathering.
At the end of every meeting there is a mad rush to get hold of a copy of his 30-page document on Sachar, “Sach Kehte Hain Sachar – Toh Phir Mussalman Khamosh Kyon?" (What Sacchar says is true – Then Why are Muslims quiet?).
Interestingly, Pasha’s public meetings on Sachar are being organised by leaders across all parties with conflicting interests at national level.
Sanjay Garude, Congress president of Jalgaon District, organised a meeting at his native village Shendurni on 4th November.
“I have not called a BJP legislator, I called Pasha Patel, in whom the poor Muslims have found their leader.
He is not asking them to vote for BJP but he is taking Sachar to the grassroots,” says Garude. Lok Janshakti Party’s Sapkule adds, “He is not telling the Muslims to snatch a part of the quota reserved for Dalits or OBCs but is demanding a fresh quota for backward Muslims.”
Ravi Devang, a civil engineer and leader of Swatantra Bharat Party from Dhule, thinks Pasha Patel is more popular among Hindus than Muslims.
“I am tempted to compare him with Rashtra Sant Tukdoji Maharaj, whose book on agriculture is treated as the Bhagwad Gita of the farmers.”