Today's Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat are being closely watched.
Congress nominee Ahmed Patel is Sonia Gandhi's chief strategist. He has immense influence on the party's top leadership. Given his position, ensuring Ahmed's victory has become a matter of prestige for the Congress. Anything less will cause them to lose face.
Ever since Sonia became Congress chief, the understated Ahmed has emerged as a powerful leader and backroom strategist. He has chosen to keep himself away from media glare and out of the public eye. He has hardly spoken in Parliament.
So why does a section of the Muslim population want to keep Ahmed out of the Upper House of Parliament?
Though small in number, Shias are up in arms against Ahmed's nomination. They have accused him of concealing facts in the affidavit filed with his nomination papers.
Syed Bahadur Abbas Naqvi, general secretary, Anjuman-E-Haideri— a Shia trust which looks after the Wakfs and Imambara of Dargah Shah-e-Mardan at Karbala (Jor Bag) in New Delhi — tells Firstpost: “We lodged a complaint with the Chief Election Commissioner on 4 August about the false affidavit submitted by Ahmed for contesting Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat. He deliberately misled the EC by not mentioning about an FIR registered against him in November 2016 at Lodhi Colony police station in New Delhi.”
At the heart of the acrimony: In 2005, Anjuman-E-Haideri claimed that the land around the Dargah — which dates back to 1724 and is one of the oldest Shia Imambaras — belonged to the Waqf and had been taken over by the government. The land has been in dispute ever since.
Naqvi alleges: "We'd filed this FIR against him. The FIR was registered under Delhi High Court order and Ahmed was made main accused for supporting and patronising the ‘Waqf Board’ land mafia active in Jor Bag area, which attacked Dargah Shah-e-Mardan.”
On Monday evening, the organisation held two back-to-back press conferences in Delhi claiming that, at first, the police had filed a dummy FIR which didn't even name Ahmed.
“It was only after we moved the Delhi High Court that Ahmed’s name was added in the FIR. Police were conspiring with Ahmed and had deliberately excluded his name," Naqvi says.
The organisation, which claims to have the backing of more than 5 crore Shias across the country — as well as non-Shias who follow Imam Hussain (the 7th century revolutionary leader for social justice and the grandson of prophet Muhammad) — has urged Gujarat MLAs to not support Ahmed’s candidature.
“We have been repeatedly telling the people and government about Ahmed. He usurped 1.5 acres of our land, which is worth crores," Naqvi adds.
Naqvi has also lodged a complaint with the Chief Election Commissioner, urging action against Ahmed.
Lucknow-based Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad has spearheaded a campaign demanding Ahmed's arrest.
“Ahmed Patel is lying that there’s no FIR against him. Initially, the police didn’t name him in the FIR, but after an order of the division bench of Delhi High Court, his name has been added. Therefore, there’s an FIR against Ahmed, which he concealed from EC,” senior counsel Mehmood Pracha, who contested the case before the high court tells Firstpost.
“Ahmed used dirty tricks to usurp a piece of land belonging to the trust. He has betrayed the community,” says Zahrul Hassan, manager, Anjuman-E-Haideri.
However, a Congress leader insisted that no FIR has been registered against Ahmed. "It’s a false allegation to malign his image,” the leader says.
Despite repeated calls and text messages, Ahmed Patel did not respond to Firstpost.
Updated Date: Aug 08, 2017 08:34 AM