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COVER STORY

The Most Influential Person of Assam

MOHSIN-E MILLAT OR

The Benefactor of the Nation A critical account of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal’s political trajectory from 2006-2014

By M. Burhanuddin Qasmi and Manzar Bilal Qasmi

22 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014


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n incident happened during assembly election in 2006 in Assam. A formal question by the media persons was thrown to the state chief minister Mr Tarun Gogoi asking about the electoral impact of the then nascent political party – Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) and its leader Maulana Badruddin Ajmal. The question apparently made Mr Gogoi upset, changed his mood and he angrily

“Let us find out how Maulana Ajmal’s political and socio-educational journey progressed between 2006 -2014 and how he is perceived by the nation and his community at home and abroad.” replied with a fresh question – ‘Who is Badruddin Ajmal?’ And then onwards this short interrogative phrase became the subject of many heated debates

and talk shows in public and media; and it remains ever fresh as a point of political attack and counter attack between Indian National Congress (INC) and present All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in the run up to the succeeding elections. Thus, the sentence pronounced by Mr. Gogoi is till date very popular in Assam and a part of Assam’s present political discourse which keeps the chief minister sheepish when asked about it now. Both Mr. Tarun Gogoi and Maulana Badruddin Ajmal are well acquainted with each other. They are popular mass leaders in their own bastions yet the intriguing question by Mr Gogoi was in bad taste and Maulana Ajmal’s party made him swallow his words after the meteoric rise of the AIUDF in the elections. His question was similar to Sheila Dixit’s reply when asked about the Aam Aadmi Party’s leader, Arvind Kejriwal. She said “Who is Kejriwal”? He showed her his mettle and his party’s broom swept away the Congress and the Sheila Dixit ministry

in Delhi. Since the 2006 assembly election AIUDF went on gaining mileage on the Congress, day by day and today in the run upto the 2014 Lok Sabha election, AIUDF is the major challenge for Congress in Assam in at least 10 Lok Sabha seats. The party, which has 18 MLAs and a lone member of parliament in Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, now aims high to win a minimum of 3-4 MP seats and hopes to defeat the Congress in at least 4-5 other seats. It speaks of ruling the state following the next assembly election in 2016. It remains to be seen whether it lives upto its promise. Today Maulana Badruddin Ajmal has an international following. He has matured into a mass leader and a Mohsin-e Millat (benefactor of the nation) in real terms. He is the most influential person of Assam and is considered to be among the strongest Muslim voices in Indian politics unlike Mr. Tarun Gogoi who is fighting to retain his Assam-centric leadership.

AFMI’s 22nd International Convention in Guwahati

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he 22nd International Convention on Education and Gala Award Ceremony organized by the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI), a USA-based philanthropic organization with branches in Canada and Gulf countries, was a momentous event for All India United Democratic Front chief, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal. During the last week of the year, on 28 and 29 December 2013, the AFMI held the convention to felicitate meritorious students of the Muslim community from all over India in Guwahati, the gateway for the

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This moniker only confirmed the tireless efforts of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal to serve the community and the nation. north eastern states and capital city of Assam. It is a state with a high Muslim population but in a sorry condition when it comes to education. The event became historic and memorable, for some at least, with the unanimous passing of

resolution No. 8, which reads, “Be it resolved: That this International Convention confers the title of “MOHSIN-E MILLAT” (Benefactor of the Community) to Hazrat Maulana Badruddin Ajmal saheb for his outstanding services in the socioeconomic and educational sectors.”


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his moniker only confirmed the tireless efforts of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal to serve the community and the nation. AFMI’s founding Trustee Dr. AR Nakadar of USA and President Mr. Ayyub Khan of Canada have explained, “We offer this token of love and appreciation to Hazrat Maulana Ajmal saheb in recognition of his tireless and priceless contribution for the welfare of poor and downtrodden people of the Muslim community in particular and country in general.” This recognition was made at Pragjoyti Hall, ITA Centre, Guwahati, in the presence of hundreds of academician, intellectuals, dignitaries, politicians, social activists and religious leaders

Dignatories are watering a tree planted for the promotion of education at AFMI convention in Guwahati.

from India and abroad. This was a salute to the signal achievements of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal whose philanthropic efforts have expanded beyond the state and have now reached foreign shores. However, it is slightly regrettable that this recognition should have first

come from within the community itself or from the leading NGOs of the country. It now remains to be seen whether other big names from the corporate sector follow his CSR lead and emulate his charitable and benevolent activities.

Mohsin-e Millat Maul. Ajmal

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oday Maulana Badruddin Ajmal is a famous personality among religious, social, educational and political circles in India, and so it is timely to highlight some features as to why he should be called ‘Mohsin-e Millat’ or what might have caused the people to offer him this title. In fact, after Jammu and Kashmir, it is Assam which has a high percentage of Muslims in its population but unfortunately Muslims of the state have been facing innumerable problems. The lack of educational opportunity, floods and land erosion, communal violence and discrimination have pushed them to the bottom. The most serious problem for them was insecurity as they were harassed and alleged to be foreigners. Maulana Badruddin Ajmal was born to late Haji Ajmal Ali (ra), an ordinary farmer at Hojai, Assam but later on he became a successful 24 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014

Maul. Ajmal is welcomed with a gift of the glorious Qur’an by Imam of holy Ka’ba Saikh Abdur Rahman As-Sudais in Makkah

He from the very beginning, ensured to spend a part of Ajmal Company’s income for the betterment of the community and humanity. businessman in Mumbai and Gulf countries. As he was gifted with piousness in nature and a down-to-

earth in manner; Ajmal Sait was deeply connected with his roots. He nursed high dreams for his people at home. It is said “Reality rarely matches dream but only dreams give nobility to purpose.” His life was an exemplification of this idea. A graduate of Darul Uloom Deoband, trained by his God-fearing parents, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal took the humanitarian mission of his father seriously. From the very beginning he ensured to spend a part of Ajmal Company’s income for the betterment of the community and humanity. The establishment of Markazul Ma’arif in 1982 by Maulana Ajmal was a milestone to the road to success for his charity work. This later paved the way for HAMM Hospital and Research Centre (a separate trust) in 1994, Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Centre (a separate organization) in 1994 and Ajmal


COVER STORY Foundation (trust) in 2006. To educate the community children, Maulana Ajmal established dozens of schools, colleges, madrasas, orphanages and makatibs in Assam as well as in other north-eastern states. Besides setting up hospitals for providing medical services, Ajmals have also stood to help out the people of Assam whenever they were in need. Markazul Ma’arif and Ajmal Foundation have always been there to provide with relief materials, financial support and medical services when there were humanitarian crises, natural or men-made, in the nation. Though he belongs to a wellestablished family with religious learnings, Maulana Ajmal did not need to enter politics for his own or family benefit, and he did so only on instruction of his spiritual guru late

“ Maulana Ajmal did not

need to enter politics for his own or family benefit, he did so only on instruction of his spiritual guru late Maulana Syed As’ad Madni (ra)“

Maulana Syed As’ad Madni (ra). This was to raise the voice of the voiceless and to try solving community issues which require legislative authority. With his honesty, his dedication and selfless services, he made his presence felt successfully in national politics too. Most importantly, he has been fighting for the rights of genuine Assamese Muslims who have always been targeted as foreigners by

communal forces. He stood as a rock against this propaganda and took this issue from street rallies to court and from Assembly to Parliament. While participating in a debate on 2012 Muslim-Bodo clashes in Assam, Maulana Ajmal alone lambasted the senior BJP leader and 2009’s Prime Ministerial candidate Mr. LK Advani when he generalized and levelled allegations against Muslim victims of the riots as ‘foreigners’. Maulana Ajmal, with his passionate and historic speech in the House made the nation understand that the riots in BTAD area of Assam were between Bodos and Muslims, and both are local and genuine Indians. For this effort alone, he rightly deserves to be called ‘Mohsin-e Millat.’

Sir Syed Award for Maul. Ajmal

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he same convention witnessed another significant moment as Maulana Badruddin Ajmal was honored with the prestigious “Sir Syed Award” – a trophy and a certificate, for his selfless services in the field of education. Besides his matchless contribution in education in the northeast states, there are scores of madarsas, educational institutions and organizations, all over the country, that are directly under his patronage and support. One of the most remarkable achievements crafted by Maulana Badruddin Ajmal is his successful endeavour to bridge the gap between religious and modern education. He found it necessary to bridge the wide gap between modern sensibility and the closeted world of the madrasas, 25 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014

Maulana Badruddin Ajmal received ‘Sir Syed Award’ from His Excellency Mr. Devanand Konwar, the Governor of Tripura and Dr. AR Nakadar, AFMI Trustee

so that both could interact freely with one another and the modern youth could take advantage of traditional Islamic knowledge. Maulana Ajmal was the first to sense the danger of this widening gulf, created by the colonial education system, between two streams of Indian learning. He also felt that there is a need of some Muslim scholars to counter the misconceptions against Muslims

and Islam being spread by the West or Westernized media. Towards this end, he established Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Centre (MMERC) in Delhi to skilfully train selected madrasa graduates and educate them in modern subjects hitherto unknown to them. The organisation later shifted to Mumbai in 1998 and branched out in various states of India including UP, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Assam. Today some of the MMERC alumni, themselves are well distinguished and trendsetters for others in their different fields, and are messengers of peace and Islamic wisdom both among people of religious as well as modern background in India and abroad.


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Maul. Ajmal as ‘The Sir Syed of North East’

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ndeed, when one compares the educational situation of Assam and northeast region four decades ago with the present period, one comes to know the working in the trenches of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal for educational development of the region. Owing partly to his efforts, educational awareness has spread in Assam and neighbouring states. Of course, a single soul or a single organization could hardly change the fate of an entire region or state but that single one can be a

Of course, a single soul or a single organization could hardly change the fate of an entire region or state but that single one can be a beacon, a guide and an example to follow by others beacon, a guide and an example to follow by others; and Maulana Ajmal has proven to be one of that guiding stars. These were the reasons that

impressed Justice MSA Siddiqui, chairman of National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions who called Maulana Badruddin Ajmal “The Sir Syed of North East”. Justice Siddiqui made this observation during his keynote address at Ajmal CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Educational Conclave held on December 1, 2013 at Hojai, Assam and he said, “The educational achievement of Ajmal saheb is so enormous, so effective and I am sure it would be durable too and therefore I see him as the Sir Syed of Northeast.”

Illustration as appeared in the OUTLOOK magazine

Maul. Ajmal is The Most Influential Person of Assam

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few months back, one of the top English weekly magazines ‘Outlook’ conducted an online survey to choose the most influential personality of 14 populous states of India. The result of the survey (participated by over six lakh people) came with the revelation that Maulana Badruddin Ajmal is the most 26 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014

influential person of Assam with 13 others from 13 different states, which include other notables such as former chief minister Mr. Arvind Kejriwal from Delhi, superstar Mr. Amitabh Bachchan from Maharashtra, present Indian cricket team skipper Mr. MS

It’s difficult to put Badruddin Ajmal in any particular box. He wears different hats— perhaps one should say caps— as the situation demands. Dhoni from Bihar and Jharkand, former chief minister Ms Mayawati from Uttar Pradesh, film star turned politician Mr. Chiranjivi from Andhra Pradesh and others. Maulana Ajmal added another feather to his cap by defeating Assam’s chief ministerial aspirant and present health and education

minister - Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma (2), renowned filmmaker, Mr. Jahnu Barua (3), AASU’s founding member and long-time advisor - Mr. Samujjal Bhattacharya (4), and former Assam chief minister and present Assam Gana Parishad (AGP) president, Mr. Prafulla K. Mahanta (5). One of the reasons behind the growing popularity of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal is his open heartedness, his love and respect for all human beings and his dedicated educational, political and social services for all, which endeared him to the masses of Assam. It is also noteworthy that he has refrained from giving his party a communal coulour as several nonMuslims have been welcomed into his political formation. A tribesman Dr. Aditya Langthasa, former AIUDF MLA from Hojai and present working president of AIUDF was put in the second top place of the party. Similarly, once publicly humiliated


COVER STORY in the Guwahati streets by striping her clothes off for no other reason than her agitation, the young female student from tea-tribal community of Assam Laxmi Orang was nominated as MP candidate from Tezpur in 2009 by Ajmal’s party, which was later rejected by the election commission due to age issues. These including so many others, as top office bearers, MLAs and MP candidates make Maulana Ajmal’s AIUDF, even more secular than age-old parties when it comes to real community representation and power sharing. While commenting on Maulana Badruddin Ajmal on being chosen as the most influential person of Assam, Mr. Pranay Sharma of Outlook magazine wrote in his column: “It’s difficult to put Badruddin Ajmal in any particular box. He wears

“He is credited with opening a number of schools, madrassas, orphanages and hospitals in various parts of Assam, particularly those with a substantial Muslim population.”

different hats— perhaps one should say caps— as the situation demands. He is an affluent businessman, a popular religious leader, a controversial politician, though not strictly in that order. For that can change as his priorities change. Yet

all three roles merge seamlessly to create the persona that is Ajmal. He was born in Assam, three years after Independence. His initial success came through the perfume trade, not in his state but in Mumbai. Dubbed “perfume baron”, he has a multimillion dollar business spread across the country, with forays abroad. Ajmal studied at the Darul Uloom Deoband seminary and earned the equivalent of a master’s degree in Arabic and theology. Many call him Maulana Ajmal. His soaring popularity, especially among the Bengalispeaking Muslims of Assam, has also been attributed to his philanthropy. He is credited with opening a number of schools, madrassas, orphanages and hospitals in various parts of Assam, particularly those with a substantial Muslim population.”

Maul. Ajmal among World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims Jamiat Ulama-e Hind President Maulana Badruddin Ajmal featured in the list of World’s 500 Most

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he Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center of Jordan, an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, prepared a list of world’s 500 Most Influential Muslims with details of their work in various fields. The list is in the shape of a well-crafted hardbound book named ‘The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims’ was published first in 2009 and updated every year. The name of AIUDF chief, Member of Parliament and Assam 27 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014

The list of World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims 2013/14 includes Maulana Ajmal’s name for the fourth consecutive year (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013). Influential Muslims in the category of Philanthropy/Charity and Social Development for the first time in 2010 for his outstanding services to humanity and since then it continues to find place in the list. The new edition of World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims 2013/14 came out recently and Maulana Ajmal’s name has been included in it for the

fourth consecutive year (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013). His name, including some others from India, has been listed with Azim Premji for his philanthropic and charitable work. The publishers’ note on Maulana Badruddin Ajmal in the book reads: “Maulana Badruddin Ajmal is a prominent businessman in India who runs the Ajmal Group of Companies, which sells attar perfume, oils and textiles. He is a proponent and member of various social service organizations and is also a scholar of Islam, having studied at the Darul Uloom Deoband. Qasmi is also a politician who founded the Assam United Democratic Front political party. He is noted for his contributions to charitable hospitals, orphanages and educational institutions including a women’s science college.”


COVER STORY

Maul. Ajmal makes a mark as a politician

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n 2nd October 2005, just few months before 2006 Assam Assembly election, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, supported by 18 NGOs, formed a political party named Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) which later became All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in the presence of then undivided Jamiat president Maulana Syed Arshad Madni as the president of the meeting at Guwahati. Under the dynamic leadership of Maulana Ajmal AIUDF got 10 seats in its maiden electoral fight in 2006. Maulana himself was elected simultaneously from two seats — South Salmara and Jamunamukh — by a large margin of votes. He was elected as the leader of the AIUDF Legislative Party in Assam Assembly and since then he guided party MLAs to play the role of a constructive opposition in the Assembly. In 2009 general election Maulana Ajmal was elected to parliament from Dhubri constituency defeating his Congress rival and sitting MP Anwar Hussain by a record of 1,98000 thousand votes. Though AIUDF contested from 8 Lok Sabha seats, won only one, its vote share improved and it secured the highest number of votes in 25 Assembly segments in Assam. This growing popularity of AIUDF posed a big challenge to the state unit of the Congress. Instead of facing this challenge through good governance, the Congress used money power to split the AIUDF by luring its MLAs to make sure the victory of its candidates during Rajya Sabha elections in 2010 and 2014. 28 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014

Although Congress succeeded in trapping some AIUDF MLAs, it did not affect the credibility of AIUDF but with time there is a spike in its popularity. Just few days before 2011 Assam Assembly election, the Congress played one more divide and role gimmick. The Assam unit of Jamiat Ulama-e Hind (JUH) headed by AIUDF chief was dissolved by

witnessed his party’s remarkable victory on 18 seats, doubling the figure from 2006, and saw it emerging as the second largest party of the state. Assam chief minister, Mr. Tarun Gogoi, who once had posed the question – “Who is Badruddin Ajmal” in 2006, now bowed down to the leadership quality of Maulana Ajmal and is eager to form a coalition

AIUDF leaders are with their West Bengal unit in Kolkata

Maul. Ajmal consoling the vicitms following 2012 BTAD riots in Assam

its national president Maulana Syed Arshad Madani for reasons better known to him. These conspiracies were hatched only to politically weaken Maulana Ajmal and his party but all this subterfuge went in vain as the 2011 Assam Assembly election

with AIUDF in 2014. He publicly stated: “The AIUDF has been already an ally of the Congress in the UPA. It should have been an ally in Assam too, but that had not happened so far because of my objections. Now that the prime minister and the Congress president have desired that, who am I to oppose it.?” The Maulana rejected this proposal outright and said, “Should I cry out from the top of Qutub Minar that we don’t want to ally with Congress in Assam” while replying to repeated questions by media persons in January this year. This shows that Maulana Badruddin Ajmal wants to fashion his party with a distinct political flavour that serves to fulfil the aspirations of the people forthrightly without indulging in pork barrel politics. He


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wants to steer clear of both the UPA and NDA political formations. All indicators from Assam point that AIUDF is expected to have a major impact in the upcoming 2014 general election. The party

will surely increase its tally and the fight in Assam will be mainly between Congress and AIUDF, some observers say. The Modi wave will have little effect over Assam’s electoral map, barring a few seats.

Maulana Badruddin Ajmal led AIUDF is no more a spoiler, as Congress leadership used to claim, but rather it has emerged as a keyplayer in the state with growing mass support.

Maul. Ajmal in the eyes of his critics ‘No man is perfect’ as the saying goes. So is the case with this pleasant persona called Maulana Badruddin Ajmal. To shoot the target at eleventh hour and walking

He has to see to it that his party members do not fall a prey to blandishments from the Congress and see to it that they too harbour the same flavour of honest public service as the party leader he himself does. behind schedule – this negative fame, he owns. Business out of office and meetings in extra times are some challenges in his life. And it is a fact that there is marked difference between regional leaders with narrow ethnic or parochial loyalties who may find it difficult to emerge as national political icons. The qualities include besides honesty, dedication and charisma, firm decision making, solid organizational base, long-term and shortterm planning, and creating more leaders in collaboration with public mood while 29 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014

s t re n g t h e n i n g the grass root support base of the party. On these fronts Maulana Badruddin Ajmal has yet to take major strides towards a pan-India vision. He has been criticised for not being able to keep his flock of MLAs within the fold, losing them to lures from other parties. He needs to pay attention to not only developing his political savvy and firming up his decision-making calibre but also strengthening his party’s organisational structure. He has to see to it that his party members do not fall a prey to blandishments from the Congress and see to it they too harbour the same flavour of honest public service as the party leader himself does. Else he is bound to lose his grip on the electorate itself, since politics is not a one man show. If he works hard on these fronts then it is hoped that he would emerge from the nimbus of Assam to the full glare of the sun on the national political horizon.


COVER STORY

Maul. Ajmal as an MP in Parliament

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t is notable that despite his party being the main opposition to the Congress-led Assam government, he extended his support to the UPA-II headed by the Congress to form a government at the Centre aiming to stay away from communal forces and in the hope of bringing more Central aid to Assam. While participating in the debate on general budget 2009-10 on 13 July 2009 he put forth his mind loud and clear in Parliament.

He said: “Our party – AIUDF, supported the UPA Government with the hope that this will bring additional benefit to my state

– Assam. But it seems that it had made little impact (in the budgetary allocation for Assam). I still support the Government as I have not lost hope.” During last five years in the Parliament, Maulana Ajmal has been a member of 8 parliamentary committees including Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry and Committee for Implementation of PM’s 15 Point Program, which shows his active participation in the legislative process.

Maul. Ajmal’s Speeches in Parliament The long list of his parliamentar y speeches cover issues such as Muslim reser vation in job and education, implementation of Sachar and Mishra commission reports, protection of Waqf

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henever Maulana Ajmal found an opportunity, he spoke out to raise pertinent issues or problems related to the community, his constituency, state and the country. Though an ally of the UPA government, yet he never stopped criticising the government on its failures on several occasions. The long list of his parliamentary speeches cover issues such as Muslim reservation in job and education, implementation of Sachar and Mishra commission reports, protection of Waqf properties and their proper utilization for Muslims’ benefit, education of minorities, corruption 30 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014

properties and their proper utilization for Muslims’ benefit, education of minorities, corruption in state and central governments, illegal arrests of Muslim youth, implementation of schemes meant for minorities etc. as national issues. in state and central governments, illegal arrests of Muslim youth, implementation of schemes meant for minorities etc. as national issues. The other broad range of issues he raised in Parliament, addressed the issue of floods and erosion, foreigners’ issue, D-Voters issue, NRC issue,

construction and repairing of roads and railway lines in Assam, in-water transportation issue of Barhamputra river, issue of slow construction work of Maha Sarak (Corridor Express Highway), the issue of broadgauge railway tracks from Lumding to Shilchar, Venture (half or semi aided) school issues, problems of jute producers and farmers, unemployment issues of Assamese youth, industrialization of Assam, and tourism in Assam as his state or constituency issues. According to a document with Eastern Crescent he has actively participated in 27 parliamentary debate or discussions from 5 June 2009 to 18 December 2013. In addition to these, he held several meetings with concerned officials, ministers and political leaders including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to seek their intervention or required cooperation to get his public work done.


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Questions asked by Maul. Ajmal in Parliament

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aulana Badruddin Ajmal put many questions in Parliament during his tenure on various issues related to his constituency, his state and the

country. He compelled the ministers to apprise the House of the actual position of various pending, delayed or forgotten issues. He asked a lot more questions though, but according to available records a total of 316 questions were accepted and answered during his 5 year tenure as an MP. (The data does not include the last Parliament session held in Feb. 2014). Nevertheless, he has been among one of the best performing Muslims MPs from all over India following Mr. As’aduddin Owaisi

of Majilis Ittahadul Muslimin from Hyderabad city of Andhra Pradesh. Palash Roy, Maulana Ajmal’s personal assistant says: “Our sir is the No 1 among all 21 MPs from northeast region of India, No 2 among 28 Muslim MPs and No 3 among all 543 Lok Sabha MPs from around the country, as far as asking maximum number of questions in the Parliament is concerned.” The performance seems amazing for a debutant MP from a nascent political party and as one lone member in the big House.

Maul Ajmal in his Constituency

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ignored after partition which led to its backwardness at every level. It is suitable to mention here some of the projects for which Maulana Ajmal has made extraordinary effort since the day he was elected as an MP from Dhubri. Besides raising the issues in parliamentary sessions, he met central ministers, bureaucrats and political leaders to translate these demands into reality.

ith more than 74 percent Muslim population, Dhubri district is one of the most backward districts of Assam. The district which is located near the India-Bangladesh international border served as a link between East Bengal (now Bangladesh) and the rest of the country till 1947. Dhubri was one of the major hubs of economic activity for the North-East. But it has been

Dhubri-Phulbari Bridge

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s there is lack of road connectivity owing to flow of a number of rivers in the lower Assam region, Maulana Ajmal pushed for the construction of a bridge over river Brahmaputra to link Dhubri of Assam with Phulbari in Meghalaya’s Garo hills. He met Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Sonia Gandhi and Minister of Road and Transport and others to make sure the construction of 31 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014

this important bridge began soon. He was given assurance by Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister and in February last year then Union Minister of Road and Transport. Mr CP Joshi said that a bridge over the Brahmaputra to link Dhubri on the north bank and Phulbari on the south bank is finalized and would be constructed. The bridge will be part of an Rs 1763.27 crore project which

will include construction of a 11 KM long bridge linking Phulbari in Meghalaya with Srirampur on the

Maul. Ajmal has handed over a list of demands to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh


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Assam-West Bengal border, from the NH-127A through Dhubri in Assam. However, the change of ministers time and again in the Union Ministry of Road and Transport

badly affected the project and so it is yet to be started. The present Minister, Mr Oscar Fernandes, during his visit to Assam in August last year also gave assurances about the start of the project very soon.

Sooner or later whenever the bridge is constructed, indeed, the credit would go to Maulana Badruddin Ajmal for his persistence and perseverance.

Erosion protection initiatives

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he whole of Assam and specially its lower part – Dhubri, Goalpara and Barpeta etc. are the worst flood-affected areas as river Barahmaputra flows here causing devastation every year. In almost every session of the Parliament, Maulana Ajmal raised the issue of floods and erosion and its bad impact on Assam’s economy and demanded that it be declared a national disaster. He pressed for a

speedier and permanent solution and a proper rehabilitation mechanism for the affected people. He also

Maul. Ajmal is observing Barhamputra erosion in his constituency

approached, through letters as well as personal meetings, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister, Chief Minister of Assam and Union Minister of Water Resources for this. This has been a persistent problem of Assam, as poor people from minority community mainly bear the brunt of natural calamities; it needs a collective effort from both central as well as states government to solve some of these problems.

AMU campus in Dhubri

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he main reason for educational backwardness of any area remains the lack of educational institutions which consequently affects overall

minority concentrated districts of various states of the country to make way for higher education for the minority students. In the first phase, Central Government gave a

He personally met all the concerned authorities from Prime Minister to CM of Assam and from HRD Minister to AMU Vice Chancellor. Maul. Ajmal is delivering a fresh application to present AMU VC Zameeruddin Shah

development of that area. Maulana Ajmal’s efforts for development of Dhubri include setting up educational institutions in the region. In 2009, Aligargh Muslim University (AMU) decided to open its Campuses in 32 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014

nod to five campuses to be opened in Murshidabad (West Bengal), Malapuram (Kerala), Kinshanganj (Bihar), Aurangabad (Maharashtra) and Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh). Considering this as an opportunity, Maulana Ajmal started to pitch for an AMU centre in Dhubri too, a minority-dominated district. Besides putting this demand on the

floor of Parliament, he personally met all the concerned authorities from Prime Minister to CM of Assam and from HRD Minister to AMU Vice Chancellor. On his constant requests, Assam CM sent an official proposal to AMU VC for establishment of a centre in Dhubri. The demand was being considered positively and it seemed the efforts would bear fruit soon. But then there was a setback in 2012 with sacking of the then AMU Vice Chancellor Prof. PK Abdul Azis who was architect of the idea. Unlike his predecessor, the present AMU VC General Zameeruddin Shah has deferred the idea of establishment of any new campus other than the above mentioned five campuses. However, Maulana Ajmal’s struggle is on and he plans to take it to a positive conclusion.


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Establishment of Unani Medical College in Dhubri

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aulana Ajmal approached Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad for the establishment of a Unani Medical College in Dhubri under the Centre-sponsored scheme of development of AYUSH institutions. He also raised this demand in Parliament. The Union Minister replied positively in his letter dated 27/12/2012 but at the same time he emphasized that he can

AIUDF deligation led by its president Maul. Ajmal met former president of India Pratiba Singhji Patil on Assam issues

act on the request only after receiving a detailed Project-Proposal Report

(DPR) from state government. Following that Maulana Ajmal wrote several times to Assam chief minister Mr. Tarun Gogoi and Assam Health and Education Minister, Mr. Himanta Biswa Sharma, requesting them to send DPR to the Centre but unfortunately they have showed an extraordinary cold attitude to the issue. Thus the proposal is pending and the ball is in Assam government’s court now.

Re-opening of International Sea Port in Dhubri

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uring the British rule in 1883 an international sea port was established in Dhubri on

Dhubri District the bank of the river Brahmaputra which was used as an international trade centre with the neighbouring countries. But it was abandoned after

Indo-Pak war in 1965 and since then this port has been lying idle. Maulana Ajmal made high level efforts for re-opening of Dhubri sea port because it would bring a lasting impact on the economy of not only Dhubri but also both North-East and North Bengal. He also made a pitch for additional budgetary support for up-gradation of the Dhubri-Sadiya National Waterways. While replying to his Unstarred Question No. 132 on 5th August 2013 in Parliament, the Union Minister of Shipping Mr. G.K. Vasan has informed Maulana Ajmal about the present status of the demands that “No proposal has been received from the state Govt. of

Assam to develop or upgrade terminal at Dhubri as an international sea port. At present Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) maintains a floating terminal at Dhubri. A project for construction of an Inland Water Transport (IWT) terminal with Ro-Ro facility at Dhubri has been sanctioned at an estimated budget of Rs 31.08 cr and work has been awarded by IWAI to Central Public Works Department (CPWD).” It is good news for the people that the Union Ministry of Shipping has sanctioned funds for the project for which a tender has been already called by CPWD.

Revival of Rupsi Airport in Dhubri

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here used to be a functional airport at Rupsi of Dhubri which was constructed during Second World War by the British government exclusively for military operations. Later it was used as public airport like Kombirgram airport in Silchar and a number of private companies operated regular flights from this airport, but it 33 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014

has been closed now. Realizing the importance of this airport, for the development of entire lower Assam region, Maulana Ajmal tried earnestly for the revival of Rupsi Airport. He was given assurance by Prime Minister and Civil Aviation Minister, whenever he met them, on the issue. Latest on the issue is that it


COVER STORY

is going to function very soon unless central government changes its mind or something extraordinary happens against it. In response to his Unstarred Question No 826 on 08/08/2013, Minister of State for Ministry of

Civil Aviation Mr. K. C. Venugopal informed him that “Decision to hand over the Rupsi Airport in Assam to Ministry of Defence has been taken for development and joint use by Indian Air Force (IAF) and Airport Authority of India (AAI). The government of

Assam has been requested to carry out re-survey of the airport land.” No doubt, this is the outcome of Maulana Ajmal’s initiatives for the development of his constituency and the lower Assam region.

Works under MPLAD funds

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heir constituents, approach members of Parliament quite often, for small works of capital nature to be done in their constituencies. To fulfil this demand, a scheme named ‘Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD)’ was introduced in 1993 to enable MPs to recommend works to be done in their constituencies. Initially, the amount for MPLAD was Rs.1 crore per year which was increased to Rs 2 crore from 1998 and to Rs 5 crore from 2011. Members of 15th Lok Sabha were given Rs 19 crore each during their five-year-tenure. Maulana Ajmal has recommended several projects in his constituency for public welfare including Drinking Water Facility, Education, Electricity Facility, Non-Conventional Energy Sources, Health and Family Welfare, Sanitation and Public Health, Irrigation, Roads, Pathways, Bridges, Sports, Animal Care, Erosion Control Measures, Schools, Graveyard, Eidgah and Waiting Shed Construction works, and other public facilities. When this author asked Maulana Ajmal about the utilization

34 EASTERN CRESCENT | MARCH 2014

Dhubri MP Maul. Ajmal with AIUDF MLA Rafiqul Islam Qasmi at a releif camp during 2012 BTAD riots in Assam.

He has utilized all the 19 crore MPLAD funds exceeding the limit and handed over a long list of works carried out in last five years under 10 MLA constituencies. of his MPLAD funds in his own constituency – Dhubri, he replied that he has utilized all the 19 crore funds exceeding the limit and handed over a long list of works carried out in last five years under 10 MLA constituencies. Dhubri parliamentary constituency comprises of two lower Assam

districts – Dhubri and Goalpara with 10 MLA segments – Mankachar, Salmara South, Dhubri, Gauripur, Golakganj, Bilasipara West, Bilasipara East, Goalpara East, and Goalpara West. The list he gave us shows his MPLAD fund utilization covered all areas. The election for the 16th Lok Sabha is round the corner. The Congress-led UPA government may not return to power again as it is mired in corruption and miserable governance. But many would be eager to see how many more Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, who could perform well being honest and non-corrupt, are sent to the Lok Sabha this time around. It appears that Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party (AAP) will be a factor, nationwide, in the upcoming general election. But it yet to be seen whether Maulana Badruddin Ajmal’s political ambition is restricted to his state or it goes beyond Assam. In the event of a third front materialising following the Lok Sabha results he can be expected to play a significant role at the national level.

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