The Telegraph
Tuesday , December 31 , 2013

Muslims set Arvind terms

New Delhi, Dec. 30: Rahul Gandhi wooed but Arvind Kejriwal may gain.

Several leading Muslim organisations have offered support to the Aam Aadmi Party — one of them through a newspaper ad — in next year’s general election if it agrees to include in its manifesto a charter of 20 demands.

The development comes a week after Rahul attended a daylong interaction between the Congress and Muslim leaders as part of his plan to “open up” the political system.

Zakat Foundation of India, the country’s largest Muslim charity, put out an advertisement in all leading Urdu dailies in Delhi today.

“Indian Muslims congratulate Arvind Kejriwal and his team and ask him to set up a mechanism to end the injustice meted out to the largest minority group,” it said.

Zakat chief Syed Zafar Mahmood had written to the UPA government last month offering support if it fulfilled some of the 20 demands in “the next two to three months” and gave a written assurance to deliver the rest if voted back to power.

“But they failed to respond; so we decided to support the AAP with the same conditions,” said Mahmood, a former bureaucrat who was in Manmohan Singh’s PMO in 2005-06.

At last week’s meeting, addressed by Rahul, Muslim leaders including Mahmood had pointed out the Congress’s failures on various minority demands.

The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an umbrella body of social organisations that drew up the 20-point charter with Zakat, said the Aam Aadmi Party was a good alternative.

Mushawarat president Zafarul Islam Khan said the AAP had challenged the “political monopoly of the Congress and the BJP”, giving the Muslims “another option”.

Three days ago, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, a political party, took a similar stand. Before the Delhi polls, Jamaat had issued a statement favouring the Congress and warning that a divided Muslim vote would benefit the BJP.

Key demands

■ Job quota for Muslims

■ Raising outlay for PM’s 15-point programme for minorities to 19% of total plan allocation

■ An equal opportunity commission

■ Fast-track terror courts; time-bound trial

■ Rs 50 lakh each for those acquitted in terror cases

■ Nomination of Muslims to high govt posts

■ Budget component for Muslims’ skill development, economic opportunities

■ An Indian Wakf Service

■ De-reservation of seats with sizeable Muslim influence

■ Minority status for Aligarh Muslim University