A Nationwide Journey for Saving the Constitution
Veteran journalist A U Asif, a keen watcher of the political scene in India, traces a single person’s relentless struggle to save the Constitution from getting mawled.
He is neither a candidate contesting the election nor is he canvassing for any particular party, but he matters in the constituencies dominated by Muslims and other weaker sections. He is not a political leader, but takes interest in nation-building and overall empowerment of disempowered people. The man with a mission is the 60-year old Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam, General Secretary, All India Milli Council (AIMC) and President, Peoples Movement of India (PMI). An economist by qualification, he is also associated with some other organisations and institutions.
Dr Manzoor Alam is not an ideologue and leader noticed only during elections. Much before the announcement of the current parliamentary polls, he was engaged under the AIMC campaign “Karvan-e-Siasi Bedari” in creating political awareness among the disempowered in different states. Earlier, he was among those launching the “Karvan-e-Azadi” in 1997 to mark the golden jubilee of India’s Independence. During the last one month he visited about a dozen states and interacted with a cross-section of the society at seminars, symposia, public meetings and other programmes. He himself terms his current venture as “a journey for upholding and safeguarding the Constitution of India”.
He has so far covered a dozen states, including West Bengal (March 20, 2009), Maharashtra (March 22), Rajasthan (March 28), Bihar (April 4), Karnataka (April 6), Tamil Nadu (April 9), Assam (April 10), and Gujarat (April 12-14).
Everywhere his only message is to cast every single vote to save the Constitution. He says that presently the responsibility to save the nation and its Constitution lie more on the minorities, primarily Muslims, and Dalits and tribals.
As the organisations created by and attached with the RSS don’t have faith in the Constitution, they act extra-constitutionally to achieve their goals. For instance, the Constitution establishes and safeguards secularism, but these groups talk of “genuine” and “pseudo-secularism”, trying to distract attention from this major value. The Constitution under Article 30 talks about the protection of minorities’ cultural and educational institutions, whereas the Sangh organisations term it an “appeasement”. The Constitution’s Preamble talks of equality, fraternity, justice, free expression of thought and belief for all Indian citizens whereas they want to adopt Manusmiriti-inspired philosophies. Instead of ensuring justice and equality to the minorities they believe in destroying minorities’ life, property and dignity. Whether it is their tactics to compel the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for initiating Blue Star Operation in Golden Temple in 1984, the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, the devastanting pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 or naked dance of barbarism against Christians in Orissa and other places over the last several months, this Sangh stance is clear. When they came to power at the Centre through a coalition, they constituted a committee to change the Constitution, whereas there is a ruling of the Supreme Court in 1977 that there can’t be any change in the fundamental principles of the Constitution. Then President K R Narayanan had declared that the Constitution had not failed us, rather we had failed the Constitution. On the other hand, at the time of our Independence struggle, persons like Atal Behari Vajpayee were hobnobbing with the British. It means that the entire lobby of RSS was collaborating with the usurpers. After the Partition of the country, the philosophy of RSS got our Father of Nation martyred. They have only one ambition: to come to power at any cost. They want to impose the philosophy of RSS after finishing off a particular religion and caste.
Dr Manzoor Alam says that in the light of the above facts, the decision has been taken to vote for the candidate/ party that can defeat BJP and its allies so that the Constitution remains in tact, the nation becomes stronger, and the roots of fraternity and communal harmony are further consolidated.
In Mumbai, Dr Manzoor Alam asserted on March 22 at a gathering of Muslim intelligentsia: “The need is to protect the Constitution. There are forces bent on changing the character of India’s Constitution. Muslims have a responsibility to defeat such designs and safeguard it. So far I have visited 17 cities, and everywhere I see a change in the Muslim mindset. They talk of security, jobs and education”, he added.
It is to point out that Muslims form 10.6 per cent of Maharashtra’s population but are under-represented in legislature. They have just one member from the community in the present Lok Sabha.
In Bangalore, he averred on April 6 at a large meeting of intellectuals, ulema and social and political activists: “Law is the only weapon through which those peddling hate can be taught a lesson.” Presided over by Ameer-e-Shariat Karnataka Mufti Ashraf Ali, the meeting was addressed by a number of Muslim leaders like Syed Mustafa Rifai, Maulana Reyazur Rahman Rashadi, Maulana Qadeer Ahmed, Agha Sultan, Obaidullah Sharif, Abdul Azeem, Abdul Azeez, Sulaiman Khan, former police official G A Bawa and others. The speakers were unanimous on the point that Muslims should use their right to franchise cent per cent and send four Muslim, besides 24 non-Muslim candidates of secular parties to the Lok Sabha.
In Guwahati, he interacted on April 10 with the people of the North-East at a discussion on “Rights and Duties of Citizens in the Election Process” held at Lakshmi Ram Barooah Sadan, and exhorted them to act decisively as this was a crucial election. Others who spoke on the occasion included Inamuddin Ahmed, Noorul Islam Mazarbhuiyan, Abdul Majeed Ali, Mohammed Farooq Ahmed and Shahabuddin.
A delegation of PMI comprising Dr Manzoor Alam, Dr Kumar Rajiv, Gurdip Singh and others visited Gujarat on April 12-14. In Ahmeadabad it addressed a public meeting held at the Auditorium, Ashram Road. Here, too, Dr Alam stressed the need of casting vote cent per cent and defeat the fascist and communal forces at any cost. While addressing the meeting Dr Mallika Sarabhai, independent candidate from Gandhinagar, explained the difficulties being created for her by the ruling BJP for contesting against L K Advani. Eminent personalities like Dr Kumar Rajiv, Digant Oza, Indu Kumar Jani, Ms Minakshi Joshi and Yashwant Sinha also expressed their views and appealed for vote in favour of Ms Sarabhai. The delegation also visited Kalol, a Muslim-dominated locality of Gandhinagar, Juhapura and surrounding Muslim- populated areas, and interacted with people belonging to different fields, particularly youth.
The response Dr Manzoor Alam gets in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam and Gujarat is also seen in other states he visits. He goes everywhere on demand from the local people. One hopes that the journey to save the Constitution would bear fruits and the fascist and communal forces would be routed.