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Cong minority focus

Calcutta, Feb. 7: The Congress today said it had convinced many disgruntled imams and Muslim leaders owing allegiance to Trinamul to attend its minority convention at Netaji Indoor Stadium on February 11.

Among those who could be present at the programme, to be attended by Union minority affairs minister K. Rahman Khan and foreign minister Salmal Khurshid, is an imam of a central Calcutta mosque who was associated with Trinamul in the nineties.

“I shall attend the Netaji Indoor Stadium event to protest the irregular payment of the monthly honorarium of Rs 2,500 by the state government. Besides, nothing has been done so far to improve the lot of imams, such as arranging for dwellings for them, even though a year has passed since the chief minister made the announcements,” said Meyamat Hossain Habibi, the imam of a mosque on Elliot Road.

Habibi said only a few of the 30,000-odd imams in the state had received honorarium due for two-three months in January.

Hafiz Hatim, an imam of a mosque in Diamond Harbour, said he had received nothing since the honorarium was announced.

Medical practitioner Sakil Akhter, a resident of Garden Reach who had campaigned for Trinamul in the 2011 Assembly polls, said he was planning to join the Congress.

Congress leaders feel the initiative to use the convention to woo the minorities would help the party reap dividends in the rural polls.

Trinamul leader Sultan Ahmed, the adviser to the chief minister’s minority department, said: “Muslims are very much with Mamata.”