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The AMU shindy

THE QUASHING of the Aligarh Muslim University (amendment) Act, 1981, has come handy for the ruling Samajwadi Party to take on the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre. Urban Development Minister Mohd Azam Khan is going hammer and tongs at the Congress for creating a situation, which has led to the Allahabad High Court quashing the AMU amended Act. For the ruling SP, which has been desperately trying to keep the Muslim community in good humour in the State, the court order is a God-sent opportunity. The party, completely forgetting its own commitment to the community on two major issues ? inclusion of wife and daughter in the inheritance list by amending UP Zamindari Abolition Act, and fresh notification in the Babri Masjid demolition case ? has targeted the Congress by painting it villain in the whole AMU affair.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2006 00:16 IST
M Hasan
M Hasan
None

While the SP takes umbrage at the HC order quashing the AMU (Amendment) Act, and directs its ire at the Congress, the latent politics of the issue begins to take centrestage. Meanwhile, two issues of far greater importance have been relegated to the backburner.

THE QUASHING of the Aligarh Muslim University (amendment) Act, 1981, has come handy for the ruling Samajwadi Party to take on the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre. Urban Development Minister Mohd Azam Khan is going hammer and tongs at the Congress for creating a situation, which has led to the Allahabad High Court quashing the AMU amended Act.

For the ruling SP, which has been desperately trying to keep the Muslim community in good humour in the State, the court order is a God-sent opportunity. The party, completely forgetting its own commitment to the community on two major issues — inclusion of wife and daughter in the inheritance list by amending UP Zamindari Abolition Act, and fresh notification in the Babri Masjid demolition case — has targeted the Congress by painting it villain in the whole AMU affair.

The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has long been demanding amendment in the Zamindari Act so that the wife and daughter could be given adequate shares in the property, but the SP-led coalition government has been sitting tight over the proposal. Similarly, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav during his stint in the Lok Sabha, had assured the community that if the party came back to power in the State, he would issue fresh notification in the Babri Masjid demolition case so that the two cases-191, 192- pending in Lucknow and Rae Bareli courts, could be clubbed together. More than two years down the line, the government is yet to take up the matter.

While SP leaders have been trying to mobilise people on the AMU issue, for restoration of its minority character, there is no voice within the party on the equally important Zamindari Act, which has been agitating people. “There has been no success on the AMU campus so far” said a faculty member of the university. “Resentment is brewing in the Board over the State Government dithering in the matter”, said AIMPLB member Dr Naim Hamid. Board chairman Maulana Rabe Hasani Nadvi had communicated to Revenue Minister Ambika Chaudhury about the formation of a five-member committee, which was empowered to discuss amendments to the Zamindari Act. “There is, so far, no progress”, said member and legal expert Zafaryab Jilani.

The Board is also reported to have collected data about poor representation to the minority community in government recruitments during the last two years.

The Board, which adopted a resolution during its previous meetings, has been feeling cheated on these two issues. Repeated reminders of the Board to the government have fallen on deaf ears. However, the Board has, so far, avoided issuing statements against the government.

However, on the AMU issue, the ruling party has geared up to battle the Congress. While in Lucknow, Zafaryab Jilani has taken the lead in mobilising the Old Boys and other forces to fight for the university’s cause, the AMU Students Union, it is learnt, has been maintaining a safe distance for political reasons.

Though moves are afoot to enlist the support of AIMPLB chairman and other members, there is no plan to bring the Board in direct confrontation with the Congress-led UPA Government.

The reason is not far to seek. Congress supporters in the Board want the issue to be settled amicably. There is no doubt that the AMU issue has all the potential to snowball into a major political controversy that could be exploited by anti-Congress forces. It is for this reason, people active on the campus, had been trying for a quick resolution of the problem. Efforts are also on to avoid a Congress-SP spat on the issue on the campus.

Dr. Mustafa Kamal Sherwani Dean Faculty of Law Zanzibar University, Tanzania, said the stage appeared set for prospective political dimensions of the issue to manifest themselves. As the probable outcome of the judicial adjudication of the matter could be predicted accurately, what required introspection by well wishers of this premier Muslim institution, was whether the political overtones, within and outside the Parliament, will have a positive outcome in the direction of restoring the university’s minority character.

He said the community must not be oblivious to the fact that the lack of requisite cohesion and sustenance in the movement was also fraught with dangerous consequences. Besides, how the political powers may be interested in protracting this issue, and how they may be willing to restore the minority character through a legislative measure (on the eve of an important electoral exercise), in a bid to bag the Muslim vote, must also not be lost sight of.

First Published: Jan 15, 2006 00:16 IST