My background sets me apart from other politicians: SDPI candidate from Sarvagna Nagar in Bengaluru

By Shaik Zakeer Hussain,,

Bengaluru: One conspicuous image in the Sarvagna Nagar office of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) is that of Dr. Mehboob Sharieff. A Chiropractor by profession, Dr. Saab as he is called in SDPI circles, has his election campaign posters all over the place. When Muhammad Sadiq, the party’s National working committee member, mentioned about the man in those images being imprisoned in the past for fighting Dalit and Christian causes, I wanted to learn more about him, and called him for an interview.

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“Are you a journalist?” was Dr. Saab’s first question to me. “My son is studying journalism at JNU; he was pursuing LLB, when I was arrested, but when he saw what happened to me, he gave up law, and took journalism.” I was not sure, if he, like his son also believes that journalism is better than practicing law, but it seemed like he did, which only made things easier for me.

A poster of SDPI candidate from Sarvagna Nagar Dr. Mehboob Sharieff.

Excerpts from the interview:

TCN: Why did you join politics, didn’t you find an alternative way to help people, if that’s what your intention is?

I’ve been an activist all my adult life. When in college, I joined various charity and social groups to help economically backward and other downtrodden people. I was also involved in dawah work for some time. Through these involvements I tried to help the poor, and also tried to rehabilitate Muslim women who had become victims of flesh trade. But when I realised what I was doing was not enough and did not bring real change in society, I decided to join politics.

But isn’t this more or less the same reason given by every politician at the beginning and when they get elected they deliver little?

The background that I come from and the kind of work I have done in the past, sets me apart from other politicians for whom politics is a mere profession. I’ll be the best person to do this. For me this is an opportunity to help people.

SDPI is generally seen as a Muslim party, so will you only work for Muslim causes and how would you convince people from other communities to vote for you?

Politics today is in control of few powerful people, people belonging to the so-called upper caste community. There are many who are oppressed, and the oppressed are not just Muslims. Common man is suffering; tribal lands are taken away and sold to corporations for profit. What Islam teaches and what our Prophet did was not only for Muslims, but for the whole humanity. So, SDPI is not only for Muslims but for everyone, though most of our candidates and cadres are Muslims.

Dr. Mehboob Sharieff at his office in Sarvagna Nagar

There are so many political parties around, why did you join SDPI?

Every political party has its own ideology. Everyone talks about secularism, socialism and equality to all, but no one practices it. The Congress party is considered to be the most secular of all, but what has it done. They are so many corruption charges against its members and many communal riots have taken place when they were in power. The leftists and the communists, what have they done, look at Kolkata, look at Nandigram, their policies are based on selfish gains. SDPI works with benefits to people in mind.

What difference do you think, educated people like you can bring into politics?

We would be able to better analyse the situation, comprehend issues, study societal needs and deliver justice to all. There are rights given to everyone by our constitution; an educated politician can understand this and fight for it.

If you do get elected, what changes can people expect from you?

For 66 years, civil and human rights activists are fighting for various causes, Anna Hazare led an anti-corruption campaign across the country, but what happened, his party members eventually had to join politics, because they understood that shouting outside would not make any difference, one has to get inside.

My vision is to bring due shares and constitutional rights to everyone if I get elected. My constituency is one of the largest in the city, but partiality is in practice against the minority community here. There are no civic amenities, no hygiene and no development. I will change this. What is the point of just having a tag of a MLC or MLA, when one is not helping his people? I will be a true and honest person and transform my constituency.


Karnataka 2013