TO look after the interests of the Shia community and stop its “exploitation” by political parties, members of the community, including leaders, clerics and maulanas, on Friday launched Shia Vikas Manch.
The Manch has been set up specifically with the aim to consolidate votes of the community ahead of the 2017 UP Assembly elections.
“We have been constantly ignored by successive state governments in Uttar Pradesh who do realise our potential but deliberately play down our numbers, so that they do not have to take any substantial step for our welfare. Beginning with the Minority Commission, we are not even given ample representation by the state government,” said Shia cleric and Imam-e-Juma’h of Lucknow, Syed Kalbe Jawad Naqvi, speaking on the occasion.
The conference comes in the backdrop of Kalbe Jawad-Azam Khan spat over the Waqf Board and its properties, with both leveling allegations of corruption in the affairs of Shia Central Board of Waqfs against each other. In January, Jawad was also removed from the post of ‘mutawalli’ (caretaker) of three Waqfs.
The Saturday conference was organised on the grounds of the historic Imambara Ghufran Ma’ab under the banner of Majlis-e-Ulama-e-Hind, whose general secretary is Kalbe Jawad. Around 2,000 persons, including Imam-e-Juma’h, heads of various Shia organisations and leaders from the community who arrived in from over four dozen districts, participated in the conference.
Releasing a list of 50 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh where the community has 10,000-50,000 votes each, Maulana Habeeb Haider said that “we won’t contest the elections but would work towards upliftment of the community through various means, be it social or economic.” Haider said that the Shia Vikas Manch would set up offices in the assembly seats under the leadership of local Shia intelligentsia and would then support and work for the local Shia community.
“Currently, in some places, our votes are scattered. But we wish to change this before the 2017 elections. Through the Manch, we would decide which political parties to support,” Haider said.
“The present Samajwadi Party government won about 40 seats with the help of Shia community but we continue to be forsaken,” he said.
The clerics said that once the Shia Vikas Manch finds its feet, it would evolve into a larger Manch with members of the other community too joining it, and it would then work for welfare of all.