By Tafheemur Rahman,
During the heyday of Khagra Nawab a Hindu saint refused to settle down there because the name of the town was Alamganj, the river was known as Ramzani Nadi and ruler was Mohammed Fakiruddin. When the Nawab heard this news he was so pained that he ordered to change the name of Alamganj to Krishna Kunj after the name of that Hindu saint. Years later the name got changed to Kishanganj. Since then all the communities like harijans, rajvanshis, mahtos, yadavs, Surjapuri muslims, Kulhaya muslims, Shershabadi muslims, Pachimas and others have been living harmoniously.
Such incidents have made this town one of the best secular places in India. It is also apparent from its composite culture and a sagacity of brotherhood among all the religious communities. It is pertinent to acknowledge that neither before Independence nor after 1947 Kishanganj has witnessed any communal conflicts of any sort. Even the most audacious of all communal clashes following the Babari Masjid demolition failed to incite the Muslim majority of this place to vent their ire on the Hindu minorities here which is a highly vulnerable phenomenon in many places of the country.
Although RSS, Bajrangdal and other right wing Hindutva forces tried to give this place a bad name, Shershabadis are looked upon with doubtful credentials by these outfits because they speak Bengali and live in Bihar. Intolerant level went unchecked during the time of Mr Shahnawaz Hussain as during his reign Hindutva forces were given free hand to organize frequent RSS sakhas or meetings. Besides this, provocative speech of Uma Bharti in Kishanganj also tried to inflame communal passions of the Hindu populace of the town. No wonder Mr Shahnawaz, a BJP MP paved the way for all these unsocial elements to prosper. Mr Shanawaz won in 1999 when the present MP Mr Asrarul Haq Qasmi fought and divided the secular votes to defeat the heavy weight RJD leader Mr Taslimuddin.
Situation in 2014 Lok Sabha elections was not different from 1999, even the Chai wala has a dread that history may repeat. The present Congress candidate Maulana Asrarul Haq has done hardly any development work except claiming the credit of AMU centre in which he has played no significant role in the Parliament or outside, but he is very popular among the Deobandi Maulvis. Another leader who is in the fray is Mr. Dilip Kumar Jaiswal from BJP, he is possibly fighting election to safeguard his legitimate and illegitimate functioning of the Sikh Minority Medical college where he has become its chairman. He has left no stone unturned to make Kishanganj a communally sensitive place. He has opposed the idea of AMU centre in Kishanganj, he also motivated the unsocial elements to occupy AMU land and the land of Maulana Wali Rahman in which Maulana has planned to open a centre to run vocational courses for the downtrodden.
And the third candidate was a three time MLA from Kochadhaman Mr. Akhtarul Iman who is very popular because of his excellent performance in the Assembly and developmental works in his constituency. He forced the Bihar government to call a special meeting of the Cabinet in 2012 to announce opening 35 high schools. He argued that in Araria and other districts of Bihar has three to five high schools for a population of 1,00,000, but in Kishanganj there is just one high school. He also got fame after raising the issue of surya namashkar which was made compulsory in the syllabus for every student in Bihar. After his intervention only, the government pulled back that circular. In the last eight years in the Assembly he has raised more than 853 issues. It is therefore, all the educated people, youths in general and the common secular hindus and Muslims in particular have been supporting him and asking people to send such candidate in the Parliament.
To win an election on a BJP ticket one needs to play divide and rule policy in Kishanganj which has deep rooted secular ideas. Mr Jaiswal has tried to play a masterstroke when he succeed to lure a Congress block president Mr Abdur Rahman by a BJP ticket in the Assembly by-poll which was also scheduled on 24 of April. Since Mr Abdur Rahman is from Shershabadi community who has never voted BJP, the saffron party tried very well to divide the secular votes by offering a ticket to the member of this community. Similar act has been practiced in Baisi Assembly area of Kishanganj Lok Sabha constituency where Kulhaya Muslim was given a BJP ticket in the by-poll Assembly election so that they could vote for BJP.
The plan was so meticulously designed by the BJP that nobody could stop the division of secular votes and thus repeat the history of 1999.
It was a critical position, many argued that BJP is going to make history again, the situation was demanding a sacrifice by a secular candidate so that the division of secular votes could stop, many intellectuals and right thinking people had reason to believe that Maulana Asrar should quit politics because he had promised in last election that he would in no way fight election again, and also because he is too aged to look after the business of the Lok Sabha. His performance in last five years in the Lok sabha is dismal. On the other hand, Akhtarul Iman has proved in the Assembly that he is the right choice for the Parliament.
But unfortunately, sacrifice is too difficult to practice, it is easier to preach than practice but not for those who respect ideas more than their life.
Akhtarul Iman has made this sacrifice to keep the fascists and communal forces away from playing a divisive politics at the cost of Hindu-Muslim harmony.