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Muslim coalition push for third front

The Coordination Committee of Indian Muslims, with five bodies led by the Jamaat, is preparing to launch a political party to facilitate an alternative to the Congress and BJP.

india Updated: Nov 04, 2008 00:44 IST
Zia Haq

A coalition of Muslim organisations that came up to protest the Batla House encounter in Delhi is looking to offer a “third alternative” of mainstream parties, which has brought the right-leaning Jamaat-e-Islami Hind close to the Left.

The Coordination Committee of Indian Muslims, with five bodies led by the Jamaat, is preparing to launch a political party to facilitate an alternative to the Congress and BJP.

The Jamaat-floated committee, which includes powerful bodies like the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, a faction of the Majlis-e-Mushawarat and the All-India Milli Council, has identified nearly 80 Lok Sabha seats where Muslims can have a deciding role. For other parties, this could be a pull factor.

JD (Secular) leader Deve Gowda, who was present at Jamaat’s conclave against terrorism on Monday, told HT: “We’re exploring possibilities to form a broader alliance with the help of this committee because third alternative is not possible without Muslim help.”

The CPI’s A.B. Bardhan met Jamaat leaders recently. The Jamaat will be calling on CPM general secretary Prakash Karat soon. What shape and size the coalition would take was “too early to say”, but Muslims “want a non-Congress, non-BJP government”, CPM Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said. His party would explore options for a third front with Muslim help.

The Jamaat, theoretically, works towards an “Islamic state”. It is also the facilitator of the Tablighi Jamaat, or Islamic preachers, and founder of the Students Islamic Movement of India.

Holding parleys with the radical Jamaat would have been unthinkable for the Left, but the CPI feels the Jamaat has changed. “It has realised it must adhere to constitutional principles. Why should not one welcome this positive change,” said party national secretary Atul Kumar Anjan.

Though a member of the committee, the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind is ideologically opposed to the Jamaat. “We’re working towards floating a political party which will act as a pivot for parties opposed to the BJP and Congress,” said committee convenor Mujtaba Farooq.

However, it’ll not be easy. Ideological differences among the committee members run deep.

The Jamiat said it was yet to receive a formal proposal. “If we receive a proposal, our general council will take it up,” Jamiat leader Mehmood Madni said.