Currents of Communal Muslim Politics in Bihar



Cutting the ribbon is Ghulam Sarwar (1926-2004), who figures in in this article. The journalist-turned-politician was jailed and prosecuted several times for his communal politics during the Congress rule in Bihar in the 1960’s. However, he would later join the JP movement. With the advent of MY factor in Bihar, he became a Minister and, eventually, the Speaker of Bihar Assembly. Pic courtesy: Bihar Chambers of Commerce and Industries.

Reyaz Azimabadi & NK Singh

Secular Democracy, December 1970

The so-called Muslim leaders have two slogans to give —- the question of Urdu and the problem of communal riots. For quite some time, the question of Aligarh Muslim University has emerged too in a communal garb, of course.

The leaders have never tried to face the actual socio-economic problems like the land problem, which is acutely faced by the rural Muslim population.

Mr Khalil Ahmed, a former Chief Justice of Orissa, convened a meeting to discuss Muslim politics at Patna in July last. In some quarters, Mr Ahmed’s veracity of the sudden love for his community is being questioned.

While holding the post of Chief Justice he never gave any thought to the Muslims and their problems. But just after retirement, his heart seems to have become full of love and sympathy for them and immediately a meeting was called to discuss Muslim Politics.

Emerging Voices

The meeting cannot be branded as communal outright because certain good elements attended it. However, it cannot be given a clean chit either. This meeting was actually attended by people having different sorts of attitude towards the problems of Muslims.

The voice emerging from the meeting can be put into three categories

The first group wanted a separate Muslim organisation to be formed. It said that all the political parties had failed to maintain a check over the ever-growing number of communal riots and the grievances regarding Urdu had been by-passed.

It feels that nobody wants to solve the problems of Muslims. People are rather interested in the latter’s votes. Therefore, it is necessary for the Muslims to form a separate political organisation.

If the Muslim League in Kerala with a handful of MLAs can secure better facilities such as the Calicut University and Mallapuram district, argues this group, why not the Muslims in Bihar should form their own political party in order to gain better facilities?

The second group too was in favour of a separate Muslim organisation but a non-political one. According to this group a separate political organisation would only help the reactionary political parties.

The third group (God knows, why they attended the meeting) consisting of some sections of youth was totally against any such move.

Though the group was a small one, it declared in a firm voice that in the present political situation all the Rightist Reactionary forces were getting united, creating a danger to the Nation.

The youths felt that this danger could be checked only by the Leftist democratic forces. Therefore, Muslims should associate themselves with the Left forces.

Till now, they only used to vote for the Left, but now time had come for them to join the Leftist political parties and make them (the parties) come forward to solve the different problems faced by the Muslims.

The youths pointed out that communal riots had nothing to do with the “Hindu Muslim politics.” The reactionary forces were behind it. And, therefore, it is necessary to counter their moves, which can only be done by strengthening the hands of democratic forces.

However, at the Patna meeting it was the second group, which was in favour of the formation of a non-political organisation, that dominated the show.

Inner Conflicts

Some other Muslim groups organised yet another meeting at Patna after a month, on August 19 and 20, to discuss the same issue. It was attended by people from all over Bihar. Without mincing any word, it can be said that it was dominated by communal elements.

Though the agenda of the meeting was to discuss the draft “aims and objects” of the proposed organisation, Mr Akhtar Hussain, from Purnea,  raised the question: What would be the character of the organisation, political or non-political?

He was strongly supported by Mr Shahid Ramnagri, Editor of Naquib. But Mr Amin Ajazi, Editor of Ittehad e-Watan opposed it.

Keeping in view such inner conflicts, it was decided to undertake a tour of all the districts of Bihar to contact people so that the name of the organisation and its character could be decided.

It was also decided to call a preparatory Conference of the would-be organisation in February next.

At present there are two groups inside the 14-men Committee which was formed at the meeting. One group is in favour of a non-political organisation while the other wants it to be a political one.

They want a revival of the Muslim League in Bihar. Mr Khalil Ahmed is trying to keep a balance between both the groups.

A Challenge

Another noted figure in Muslim politics, Mr Ggulam Sarwar, Editor of Sangam has kept mum over the question. Mr Sarwar, a cunning politician-cum-journalist is perhaps waiting for the time when one of the groups emerges as the winner.

Informed sources indicate that he is not against the formation of a political organisation. At the present moment he is trying to form a joint front of the Muslims and Scheduled Caste Hindus. For this purpose, he has shown considerable inclination towards Shoshit Dal of Jagdeo Prasad.

Meanwhile, a former lecturer of Millat College, Darbhanga, and at present an advocate of Patna High Court, Mr Kamran has declared himself as the President of the Bihar Muslim League.

The Central Muslim League has given permission to open its branches in seven districts of Bihar. But Mr Kamran – even during the period of about two years – has not succeeded in having a foothold in a single district! His personality is also not alluring enough to influence the people.

However, it has become evident that a separate Muslim organisation is going to be formed which will be a challenge to the progressive forces both from minority and majority community of Bihar.

But the positive aspect of the question can be traced in the Muslim youth who have kept themselves aloof from such development.

Secular Democracy, December 1970
Secular Democracy, December 1970

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