The North Andhra Muslim Welfare Association (Namwa) has decided to extend support to any political party that provides at least one Assembly seat and 10 corporator seats to Muslims in the next elections.
Political parties in the state have utilised the Muslim community for their own motives, but have denied any benefit to the community, Namwa president SA Rahman said at a news conference here on Sunday. With the division of the state, it has become all the more important for Muslims to stand united as they are among the more backward communities in the state, he said.
Rahman noted that all political parties have utilised the Muslim community for vote-bank politics but pointed out that no representation has been given until now to Muslims from the five districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, East and West Godavari districts.
Namwa vice-president IM Ahmed alleged that the government sold thousands of acres of Wakf properties in Seemandhra, but failed to utilise it for the development of the community. The government also failed to protect existing Wakf lands, he said, adding that the association plans to organise a conference with all Muslim leaders of the region to put pressure on political parties to meet their demands.
Ahmed also said that with the bifurcation of the state and a new leadership is expected to take the state forward, it is important to protect the interests of people from all communities. Providing seats to Muslim candidates would help the community highlight their problems, he said.
The central government has failed to pass the Minority Protection Act to protect the interest of minorities, including Muslims and Christians, despite meeting several national leaders, he said. Unless such an important Act is passed, communal forces will target minorities for vote bank politics, he held.
Various committees have pointed out that Muslims are the most backward when it comes to education, he said, adding that funds are being allotted on paper but are not reaching the people. Loans are also not being disbursed under the minority finance corporation as Muslims are unable to complete statutory formalities. These are the major issues that need to be taken up by political parties, he said.
Namwa working president Zaheer Ahmed demanded interest free loans for Muslims and said the government should focus on providing benefits for the whole community and also announce a separate sub-plan for their development. He said that though the population of Muslims in Seemandhra is around 14 per cent, the living standards have not changed in the last few decades.