OF ITS OWN

India Today - - SPECIAL REPORT -

Power Min­is­ter, was heard warn­ing Chandy: “If you give them a fifth Cab­i­net berth, you’ll be the last Congress chief min­is­ter.” Congress is also wor­ried about an open war against these moves by the Op­po­si­tion, as well as smaller Hindu fronts. The Nair Ser­vice So­ci­ety ( NSS), which rep­re­sents Ker­ala’s 14 per cent up­per caste Nairs, and Sree Narayana Dharma Pari­palana Yogam ( SNDP), which rep­re­sents the state’s largest Hindu block of 24 per cent of Other Back­ward Caste ( OBC) Eza­havas, have de­cided to jointly fight this ‘ ap­pease­ment’.

This has strength­ened the League’s clout within Mus­lims. Even groups like Pop­u­lar Front of In­dia ( PFI) and Ja­maat- e- Is­lami, which the League calls “ex­trem­ists”, have pledged sup­port. Says PFI’S Gen­eral Sec­re­tary P. Ab­dul Hameed: “The League is be­ing at­tacked for its le­git­i­mate ef­forts to give the community its right­ful place.”

None of this emerg­ing power is ev­i­dent in the soft- spo­ken de­meanour of the Thangals. Sayyid Hy­der­ali Shi­hab Than­gal, 65, took over as the League’s pres­i­dent in 2009 af­ter the death of his leg­endary brother Sayyid Muham­mad Ali Shi­hab Than­gal, who led the party for three decades. Un­like his elder brother, a grad­u­ate of Egypt’s Al Azhar Univer­sity and a Sufi- po­etry en­thu­si­ast, Hy­der­ali is home- grown. Go to Panakkad and his power is pal­pa­ble. He is just back from a trip to Dubai. A long queue of Mus­lim men and pur­dah- clad women wait pa­tiently to seek his ad­vice on prob­lems rang­ing from fam­ily dis­putes to ail­ments. As he sits on a leather chair be­hind a large desk, pe­ti­tion­ers take turns to whis­per in his ear. He speaks in an un­der­tone, beck­on­ing the next in queue, and breaks the monotony with short in­vo­ca­tions.

Hy­der­ali does not com­ment on pol­i­tics or re­li­gion. He speaks rarely and only af­ter much per­sua­sion. “We never play pres­sure pol­i­tics. We’ll not grab any­one else’s rights. But we’ll not let oth­ers take what is due to the community. We also won’t hurt com­mu­nal peace,” he says. He shrugs off mur­murs within Congress against the

C SHANKAR

( LEFT) RALLY BYA RAD­I­CAL MUS­LIM STU­DENT FRONTAND ( BE­LOW) EZHAVA RALLY IN KER­ALA

JOHNY THOMAS

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.