By Kaleem Kawaja
26 February 2014
Currently the Aam Aadmi Party's nationwide campaign is in full swing. It is both an electoral campaign and a public relations campaign to reform the country's political and governance system from the very grassroots. In December only about five AAP leaders (Arvind Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan, Kumar Vishwas, Myanak Gandhi) could be recognized from their earlier public achievements. But since then another dozen prominent Indians with records of upright service to the public and struggles in pursuit of public causes have joined AAP, and every week we hear of more prominent people joining this resurgent political party. Thus people like Medha Patkar, Rajmohan Gandhi, Meera Sanyal (former CEO - Royal Scottish Bank), V Balakrishnan of Infosys, Parveen Amanullah (minister, Bihar government) have joined AAP.
Yesterday I heard a video interview with Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, in which he praised AAP a lot. Maybe he may join AAP or become a member of its advisory board. While AAP's short term objective is to make a good showing in the parliamentary election in May and be an influential payer at the Centre; it has a long term objective to gain public recognition as a viable and reform oriented political party that has a future in India. In the months and couple of years thereafter they plan to compete in the elections to various state Assemblies, hoping to form government in some states in addition to Delhi. That will help them in their quest to implement their impressive reform platform.
That brings us to the question that if AAP is gaining so much popularity among prominent Indian thinkers, in addition to among the masses, where is the recognizable Muslim-Indians in it? And if they are not there, what are they waiting for? To date Parveen Amanullah is the only prominent Muslim face to join AAP. As the election campaign heats up we will hear from her, at least in relation to Bihar, if not India as a whole. But where are the other prominent Muslim citizens? Let us hope that by end March when the election campaign heats up, another few prominent Muslim names will be found on the AAP platform.
Browsing the AAP Facebook page one finds that quite a few Muslims are participating in the discussion on AAP and its programs. Muslims' participation in AAP, both masses and prominent citizens, should be in rough proportion to their population in the country. This is not to invoke any special demands of the Muslims, or to bring religion into politics, but to participate in the mainstream movement that AAP has now undoubtedly become. As AAP is successful in helping implement a justice based political system, it is hoped that some of the core grievances of the Muslim community like security, educational improvement, economic uplift will get serious consideration and implementation in due course of time.
Kaleem Khwaja is the Executive Director of Association of Indian Muslims of America (AIM) that has extended full support to AAP.