A Christian priest reciting the Gayatri Mantra at the launch of a new political party at the helm of which are top functionaries of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind. A perfect secular backdrop for the leadership of the Welfare Party of India (WPI), which was launched on Monday, to assert that it was neither a Muslim party nor the political arm of the Jamaat.
Anxious not be seen as a Muslim-exclusive party, the brainchild of the Jamaat which took shape on Monday, over two years after the idea first germinated, has non-Muslims, including a Catholic priest, in its ranks.
The first challenge for the WPI would be the forthcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Farooque. addressing a press conference after the launch, said the party would join hands with like-minded political organisations.
Ilyas rejected the notion that WPI was a Jamaat venture and insisted it was a secular party upholding the principles of justice, freedom and equality and seeking empowerment of the weak, oppressed and marginalised sections.
A national level political party, Welfare Party of India (WPI) was formally launched today at a political convention here in the national capital. The convention was attended by several civil society representatives and hundreds of delegates from across the country.
“It’s not for fun and power that we entered politics. It’s only when everybody whom we trusted and became dependent upon, betrayed us and considered it’s their due right to oppress us. We felt that now we can’t continue with this kind of political system,” said Mujtaba Farooque, president of the party.
The criminalization, communalization, commercialization and the sectarianization of politics are the biggest evils of our prevailing political culture and the WPI is committed to start a new era of value-based politics, added Farooque. “We might be late in terms of our arrival on the political stage but we promise you that with our genuine and sincere efforts we will try to create an alternative political culture,” added Farooque who is also the general secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
The WPI is the result of coming together of several concerned civil society representatives belonging to different backgrounds, communities, classes and social and political groups. Prominent of them include Father Abraham Joseph, Lalitha Nair, a former Karnataka minister and the prominent social activist from the state, Zafarul Islam Khan, Editor, The Milli Gazette fortnightly, Ilyas Azmi, former MP and senior leader of BSP, Prof. Rama Panchal, an eminent social activist from Madhya Pradesh, Prof. Sohail Ahmad Khan, former chairman, Bihar Minority Commission, Prof. Rama Surya Rao, an academician besides several others.
The convention was also attended by dalit leaders including Tej Singh, president, Ambedkar Samaj Party who offered his full support and cooperation to the WPI in future.
With Mujtaba Farooque as its president, the Welfare Party of India has also got five vice-presidents -- Ilyas Azmi, Father Abraham Joseph, Maulana Abdul Wahab Khilji, Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan and Mrs. Lalitha Nair.
The five general secretaries of the WPI are Dr. SQR Ilyas, Prof. Sohail Ahmad Khan, Prof. Rama Panchal, Mrs. Khalida Parveen and Mr. PC Hamza. Mr. Abdus Salam M has been selected as its treasurer. The party has started with just 203 members but will soon start a membership drive across the country.
The occasion saw lots of speeches about ideal state of politics. SQR Ilyas, general secretary of WPI, for instance said that, “We wanted to show that even an ordinary person on the street can empower him/herself by becoming part of alternative democratic politics and that’s why launched WPI.”
Mujtaba Farooque, president of WPI said that “at present there are only two categories of people living in India, one is getting poorer day by day. It’s a class which can’t spend even 20 rupees per day and the other is getting only richer and richer. We want to change this oppressive process of marginalization by bringing about change through political participation.”
The Welfare Party aims at realizing a value based welfare state governed by the principles of justice, freedom, equality and fraternity. It will strive for the establishment of the welfare state by recognizing and realizing the right to livelihood.
The other thing high on the agenda of WPI is facilitating “equitable, just and inclusive growth” besides bringing about empowerment of the weak and oppressed through “affirmative action realizing the principle of social justice.”
WPI leaders specifically emphasized the protection of cultural diversity by providing full opportunities to different cultures to thrive and realize the “notion of linguistic, geographical and cultural federalism.
With a middle class and media led campaign against corruption, the disease also found mention in the party press note. WPI claimed to stand against any kind of corruption and will advocate for “mechanisms of accountability and transparency at all levels of public life.”
Sending a positive message to the fairer sex, the party’s aims and objectives specifically talk about women rights in unique words. It mentions facilitating “equal growth and development opportunities for women” so that “their femininity is respected and protected in its true spirit.”