By Kumar Uttam
New Delhi: NDA's prime ministerial candidate LK Advani, who recently favoured Ram Temple at Ayodhya without disturbing communal harmony, has got support from unexpected quarters - the Imams of India.
Imams have thrown in their weight behind Advani saying his formula would "only establish permanent fraternal bonds between the two major communities of India". "And, in that case, as a society, we shall also experience and cherish unprecedented communal amity and harmony," the All India Organisation of Imams of Mosques (AIOIM) wrote in a letter to the Leader of the Opposition. AIOIM is the representative body of over five lakh Imams across the country.
"Under your leadership/prime ministership we, as a nation, will march towards our common destiny with a new moral and political strength," AIOIM secretary general Maulana Umer Ahmed Ilyasi told Advani on Sunday. Incidentally, Advani told his party, earlier this month, to reach out to Muslims and Christians who have been out of party's traditional support base.
When the Centre is battling for survival, AIOIM has put up five 'open questions': 1. Who can be the alternative? What are the options available before the masses? 2. If UPA and its constituents have failed to deliver what initiative is required to be taken by the NDA? 3. Is there a specific need to make Muslim backwardness an issue to target 'secular politics' and its negative fallout on community? 4. Are Muslims ready to make a shift? 5. How Imams of Mosque and their organisation can facilitate the required transformation?
The AIOIM answers them all. "The BJP and its allies can be the alternative provided common issues are highlighted. Social and economic issues are targeted. Communal issues are not focused."
It suggested the NDA to make a very strong peoples' movement against the Government of the day on its failure to check rise in prices of essential commodities. "Next election is neither on passion nor on development. It is simply on inflation and its impact on the men on streets," said AIOIM.
Imams believe there is a need to 'expose' the pseudo-secular face of the Congress and its allies, but when it comes to whether Muslims are ready to make a shift or not, they say it will all depend on the face of future politics of the NDA.
At the same time, they appealed, it was like now or never and this was the most opportune time to bring about such a shift. "After many elections, it will now be an election on common issues," Ilyasi wrote in his letter to Advani.
The Imams unveiled a 12-point agenda (including better relations with Muslim countries, non-interference in Personal Law, computerisation of Madarsa education and others) that, if achieved, would help them facilitate the required transformation.