Scent of success for a political Maulana

By Manzar Imam Qasmi,

There is a famous adage in Persian that says ittar is what smells itself not which the seller tells. The soothing smell of Ajmal’s ittar seems to have crossed bodies across seven seas and now it is touching the body politics of India.

Support TwoCircles

When the Ajmals opened their first perfume store in the capital’s West Nizamuddin a few days before the counting of votes of 2009 Lok Sabha elections began, it was indicative of the perfume merchant’s political entry into the Indian parliament.

The predictions proved right when the results were announced. Maulana Badruddin Ajmal was declared winner with a thumping 1.89 lakh votes.

Those who criticize maulvis for leadership crisis have been silenced by this Deoband Maulana. His rise at the state politics in the Congress bastion Assam has zipped the mouth of political critics who say that Muslims have failed to show leadership quality after independence.

At 54, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal has created ripples and evoked extreme reactions both from his foes and fans. He has emerged as a strong voice for the oppressed minorities in Assam. Now his voice is finding support in other parts of the country.

Maulana Ajamal is grieved at the plight of Muslims in Assam. He always stood for them and provided them succour and assistance every time he found them in distress but still their voice was suppressed and issues remained unattended.

This agonized and upset him. Therefore, after much thinking Maulana Ajmal came up with the idea to form a political party to lend support to the poor and oppressed sections of society who were being neglected for long.

Badruddin Ajmal officially announced his political party on 2nd October 2005. There were state Assembly elections in 2006 and his newly-formed Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) succeeded in winning 10 seats in its virgin attempt. Ajmal himself won from two constituencies with big margin of votes.

Later on 2nd February 2009 the AUDF announced to launch in other states. In the 2009 General Elections the AUDF decided to contest Parliamentary elections. Though it won only one seat from Dhubri constituency, it gave the ruling Congress a run for its life.

The margin of victory of the AUDF chief surprised the political pundits in Assam and elsewhere. While seasoned political leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan fell flat in their own state, Ajmal’s AUDF succeeded in playing spoilsport for the ruling Congress in Assam. Although his party won just one seat, it succeeded in getting the third highest proportion (17.10 percent) of the total votes.

The AUDF can no more be called a nascent political party headed by an untrained and immature politician. For Ajmal has learnt the tricks of the trade. He is a master tactician and plays his cards safe.

Ajmal’s success has not come overnight. He is known for his philanthropic ways and social services. The magnificent Haji Abdul Majid Memorial (HAMM) Hospital and Research Centre at Hojai in Assam bears testimony to it. As the state lacked proper medical facilities and people were highly affected with flood and other calamities which brought diseases, the Ajmals set up this imposing Hospital to cater to the need of the patients in affordable means. Nearly 1.5 million people have so far benefited from the charitable hospital which provides 80 percent services free of cost to the poor.

I would have died long ago, if this hospital had not been there, said a patient treated at HAMM. Of the 26.6 million population of Assam Muslims form nearly 31 percent. This is the second largest Muslim population in India after Jammu and Kashmir but alike other states their share in politics and state administration is very low. Muslims face the dual negligence after the court’s invalidation of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) (IMDT) Act.

Over the recent years, people belonging to the minority community in the state have been suffering from a sense of insecurity, says the AUDF chief. He describes the party objective “to fight for the underprivileged and downtrodden rather than minorities alone.” There will be no looking back if his party sticks to its objective.

Born on 12 February 1955 to Ajmal Ali and Maryamun Nisa of Donkigaon village, Hojai in Nagaon district of Assam, Maualana Badruddin Ajmal is the third among his five brothers. He holds a fadhilat degree from the famous Darul Uloom in Deoband. He is actively engaged in many socio-educational and charity activities. This successful businessman is also a member of the Advisory Body of Darul Uloom Deoband and president of the Assam unit of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind and Tanzeem Madaris-e-Qaumia, a madrasa board of all the non-governmental madrasas in Assam numbering more than 400.

He is the president of Markazul Maarif India, the largest Muslim NGO of northeast India that runs many English medium schools, madrasas and orphanages. This NGO has a unique learning centre Markazul Maarif Education and Research Centre (MMERC) for madrasa graduates. The MMERC has so far produced over 300 scholars after training them in English language, computers, Dawah and journalism. Some of its products are working as teachers, translators, Dawah activists, researchers and journalists in the U.K., the USA, Africa and many Gulf countries besides India.

Politics apart, Maulana Ajmal has good interest in academics. This is one of the reasons for his efforts to educate the people. In view of his interest in literary activities the Hojai Session of the Assam Sahitya Sabha unanimously chose him president of its Reception Committee in 2004. He wrote the biography of late Syed As’ad Madani and spared time to write an emotional booklet Sada-e-Dilnawaz for students of MMERC few years ago encouraging them to go ahead in life.

For the untiring Maulana Ajmal, who sports a flowing beard, loves perfumes and owns swanky cars, life goes beyond the traditional mindset of the many maulanas who fear to venture in business and prefer to serve as imams in mosques or as teachers in madrasas.

With many political big wheels searching for ground, the rise of Maulana Ajmal tells about his great future in Indian politics. If statistics can be any indication, it seems that “the scent of success” the catch-line of his traditional perfume has found admirers in the high and mighty echelons of power in the political hotbed of the country.

(Writer is a Delhi-based journalist. He can be contacted at [email protected])