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AAP's senior Muslim leaders are two women
Sunday March 30, 2014 11:39 AM, Kaleem Kawaja, ummid.com

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is a nascent political party that in fact took shape only 3 months ago when they won the election and formed government in the small but strategic state of Delhi. But their lofty vision, honesty, courage and record of "walking the talk" have catapulted them into the minds of a very large number of Indians, especially the under 40 younger generation. AAP was formed by a set of activists from the India Against Corruption movement of a couple of years ago. When that movement was raging in Delhi and few other metropolitan cities, only a small number of Muslims participated in it. After hearing slogans like "Bharat Mata ki Jai" and "Vande Matram" raised at those anti-corruption rallies, the Muslim leaders became apprehensive. When AAP was formed in late 2012, that apprehension of Muslim leadrs continued. When election was held in Delhi in November 2013, none of the five AAP Muslim candidates, many from Muslim areas received enough Muslim votes. Thus in the leadership of AAP one could not find Muslims.

As AAP's popularity has mushroomed we are now seeing more ordinary Muslims across the nation supporting it enthusiastically. Also AAP has realized that it should recognize Muslims in its folds. Of the 312 declared AAP candidates nationwide for the parliamentary election, about 29 are Muslim. In AAP's recent rallies in Kanpur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Nagpur, Bangalore, many ordinary Muslims were visible. They are openly supporting the AAP thrust that everyone should be treated fairly regardless of his/her religion/caste and that the nation's polity must drop the religion, caste, money, vote-bank based electoral politics.

Two Muslims have now become visible in the ranks of the senior AAP leadership. Both happen to be relatively young women; Shazia Ilmi (44) and Parveen Amanullah (54). Both are well educated, progressive, dynamic, have good political heritage, good track record, and are thoroughly grounded in the nation's mainstreram. Shazia Ilmi is running for parliament from Ghaziabad against BJP's Gen VK Singh, the former chief of the Indian army. Parveen Amanullah is running for parlianent from Patna agsinst BJP's Shatrughan Sinha, renowned movie star and three times member of parliament.

Shazia ilmi who was an anchor and senior journalist with Star TV (NDTV) in New Delhi joined the India Against Corruption movement at its inception and soon became its official spokesperson. As AAP was formed she became a member of its national executive and contested the Delhi state election. Shazia happens to be the daughter of late Maulana Ishaq Ilmi of Kanpur, who for many years in the 1950s-1980s published and edited UP's most popular Urdu newspaper, "Siyasat Jadeed" from Kanpur. He was himself a very popular Muslim leader of UP.

Parveen Amanullah who was a cabinet minister for Social Welfare in the Bihar cabinet of Nitish Kumar until a couple of months ago, joined AAP in late January 2014. Previously she was a well known RTI activist who in the 2004 election compiled information on the various candidates running for the Bihar Legislativ Assembly and published it as an advisory for the voters, especially to fight corruption. Parveen happens to be the daughter of renowned Indian Muslim leader and Foreign Service officer Mr Syed Shahabuddin, who for many years was the general secretary of Janata party and who fought for long against BJP's movement to demolish Babri mosque and many other causes of Indian Muslims.

Indeed the arrival of these two relatively young Muslim women in the top rung of the senior leadership of AAP heralds a new beginning for India's Muslims themselves. It is starting that in a community long dominated by men, its leaders in the new and hugely popular national movement that Aam Aadmi Party has undoubtedly become, are women. Both Shazia and Parveen are bold, courageous, articulate and savvy in the affairs of the politics. Also they are fully in tune with other senior AAP leaders and share many progressive characterestics with them. As AAP continues to grow as a political party, these two Muslim women will add the colors of diversity, secularism, principled politics among the features of AAP, and will also help propel the Muslim community into the thick of mainstream political currents of the nation.




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