With Muslims forming 17 per cent of the state’s population, and a sizeable votebank, the Samajwadi Party government is aiming to tap them in Lok Sabha elections by constituting two exclusive Waqf Tribunals for hearing cases related to disputes of waqf properties. The government claims to be aiming at expediting the disposal of waqf property related cases in the state.
A proposal in this regard is ready and is likely to be placed in next cabinet meeting by minority welfare department. One of the tribunals will have jurisdiction of taking up cases in western region of the state while another one will hear cases from eastern and central regions.
“We are hopeful of constituting these Waqf Tribunals before Lok Sabha elections. Soon it will be passed by the cabinet,” Devesh Chaturvedi, Principal Secretary, Minority Welfare, said.
The state government had received demands from several Muslim clerics to clear the encroachments from waqf properties and expedite the hearing in disputes. Recently, Shia cleric Kalbe Jawwad had also placed a similar demand during his meeting with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
The minority welfare department, headed by minister Azam Khan, was asked to start the process for constitution of Waqf Tribunals whose expenses will be borne by the state government. Each tribunal will be headed by a judicial officer of additional district judge (ADJ) rank, an additional district magistrate (ADM) rank officer and a nominated person who is knowledgeable in waqf affairs. It is not necessary that the nominated person be a lawyer or belong to Muslim community, confirmed a senior official.
Presently, waqf property disputes are taken up for hearing by a judge who is nominated by respective district judge as an additional responsibility.
Samajwadi Party (SP) in its 2012 Assembly election manifesto had promised to enact a separate law for removing encroachments from the waqf properties. It had also promised to exempt the waqf properties from land acquisition. A Waqf Act was planned by state government, but central government had passed the Waqf (Amendment) Act, 2013 which is now applicable in the state.
The SP government is making all efforts to constitute tribunals before Lok Sabha polls to highlighted it as an achievement. UP has got a huge number of waqf properties with nearly 1.25 lakh registered with Sunni Central Board of Waqfs and another 5,000 registered with Shia Cental Board of Waqfs.
SP to contest 6 Karnataka seats
Expanding its wings, the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh has now declared to field candidates on six Lok Sabha seats, including against Union minister M Veerappa Moily, in Karnataka. The party is also reportedly in talks with Janata Dal (Secular) for a seat sharing arrangement in that state.
“We have shortlisted six parliamentary seats. A panel of candidates is ready and the names will be declared soon. We hope to win some of them as we are on a strong footing in some areas,” C P Yogeshwar, SP MLA form Channapatna seat in Karnataka said.
The six seats are Bellary, Raichur, Belgaum, Dharwad, Chitradurga and Chikkballapur —- the last is currently represented by Moily.
SP had tasted victory only once from Karnatka in Lok Sabha when former chief minister S Bangarappa had won from Shimoga seat as party candidate in a byelection in 2005. However, it hopes to increase its tally this time.
“We are in talks with JD (S). We have picked up those seats where JD (S) is not strong. Several people have approached us for ticket and we will take the final decision soon,” Yogeshwar said.
JD (S) along with SP is one of the constituent of the proposed third front.
After assuming charge as Chief Minister of UP, Akhilesh Yadav had visited Karnataka twice. In his first visit with his wife and Kannauj MP Dimple Yadav, Akhilesh had revived the link in Mysore from where he had obtained a degree in engineering. Later, Akhilesh along with father and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had addressed a rally at Chitradurga. Former MLA Goolihatti Shekar has emerged as a strong contender for the Chitradurga seat.
Last year , the party had appointed former Karnataka Director General of Police Shanker Bidari as state chief of SP. During their visit, Mulayam and Akhilesh also had attended an Iftar party and met several Muslim leaders in Karnataka.
“Soon we will have both Akhilesh and Mulayam to address rallies in Karnataka. There will be surprises in election results from our state,” Yogeshwar claimed.