Monday, September 13, 2021

Time for a new, articulate Muslim leadership to appear: Lack of leaders in Lucknow is a cause of concern

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

While there is considerable interest regarding politics in the society, the lack of initiative towards entering political arena, is intriguing.

This article deals with the issue of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh. Already, the community is facing a serious issue of poor representation in political sphere. Major parties are not giving tickets to Muslim candidates, as they feel polarization will affect their chance of victory.

Every community needs a voice and its members must reach echelons of power--at all the three levels viz. civic body, state legislature and houses of parliament. Besides, there is also social, intellectual leadership that is needed, apart from electoral politics.

What is surprising is that we don't have more people emerging as leaders in our centres. Cities like Lucknow need leaders, voices. It takes sometime before a person gets recognized in the society. This is through sustained efforts, speaking up, learning how to 'emerge' as leader in a society. 

Sometimes, a person who was never even a legislator or councillor, is seen as an important person or a leader of the region, because he has a forum or speaks up on important issues. On the other hand, there are people who win and have held public offices for several terms, but are not recalled or considered 'leader'.

It's about vision, taking initiative and several other factors. Basically, how you present yourself, how you engage with your regional media. There are certain tricks of the trade too. We need leadership that talks about real issues and also gives hope to community. 

Firstly, let's talk about a leader who got elected as MLA from one of the constituencies of the city, after a long time. It's rare for a Muslim to get elected from Lucknow, because of the manner in which delimitation of constituencies took place.

The person got ticket, he won, he was highly educated, had party chief and the cadre's support, yet he  remained silent for whole tenure. Even after loss in the next polls, could have raised issues as 'ex-MLA', because person is known, established as a leader.

Surprisingly, one never heard his statements, support to people when it was needed or any intervention, let alone positive work that could have changed perceptions or helped people in his constituency. Isn't it weird? Why does a person get into politics.

At least for sake of furthering own career or strengthening your image, you should speak an act. But you remain totally inert, then how does it help you or the electorate and the community. Capital's MLA has power, can speak on state issues, raise them, present self as face of community in state. 

Gets more media exposure, has opportunity to be known across state and country. But when someone wins, and remains inactive, then this issue. Rehan Naeem was MLA in the term 2012-2017. He lost in 2017. He lost in 2017. However, he failed to make any impact. Not party's fault. 

Earlier, it was in 1985 that a Muslim legislator had won from the seat, during the Rajiv Gandhi wave. Easy to dismiss others as 'old school, 'out of touch' but if modern, highly educated and well-connected person, fails to act, then it's really depressing. 

Not visible or taking up issues. Even as ex-MLA, leaders take delegations, hold demonstrations, meet Chief ministers and Governors, call press conferences, speak for people but when you don't do these basic things, who is responsible.

You are considered a leader when you speak up, when you are visible, you speak, stand with citizens. Now imagine, in a city where Muslim MLAs don't get elected easily due to certain factors, you get elected & yet no one thinks about you when talking of leadership in your own city.

This city has such a huge educated elite among Muslims, yet, so less engagement with politics. If you don't engage with politics, avoid social or political or any kind of leadership, and then rue that some non-serious person is seen as your representative, then what's the solution?

New generation must take up leadership role, come forward. If you've no proper leader and just those 3-4 religious faces representing you from the city that is seen as heart of Indian politics as well as Indian Muslim politics, then what can be more depressing!

There is need for not just 1-2 but 10-12 faces. Alas 0. Own failure. Accept. There is no death of people with political understanding. Every second person is an expect and has 'siyasi shaoor'. But if you can't even project yourself as leader or get into mainstream politics, then something is definitely wrong, seriously.

You've a population of nearly 1 million Muslims in  district now. But you have one sellout joker who is seen as representative. Two-three more Sunni, Shia personalities. Where is politician, where is leader?Join any party but get in politics, there's space, don't let the void remain. Take it as a profession or along side your main job, but get into active role.

Contest, lose, but at least be in politics, there should have been many leaders for such a big population, visible real netas in many parties What you do best is labelling or being minor party activists, fighting for one party and running down the 'other'.

There are people who never won LS or VS elections in their lives but are seen as big leaders. In fact, people generally don't even realise that the guy has never won a election. So, you are basically, not even able to present yourself as a neta. That's the saddest part of the story. One can't leave the field wide open.

READ: Indian Muslims need to seriously take up politics, reasons for failure in the field