The infighting within the BJP has come out in the open on several occasions during the course of its first term in power in Karnataka. It was there for all to see in the circumstances which led to the appointment of yet another Chief Minister in the State recently too. Disunity has become synonymous with the BJP in Karnataka and the equation between Anwar Manippady and Mumtaz Ali Khan, the two Muslim leaders in the party, is no different.
Mr. Manippady and Mr. Khan have been washing dirty linen in public for quite some time now. But things have got uglier with Mr. Khan even thinking of slapping a defamation case against Mr. Manippady.
On a number of occasions has Mr. Manippady taken on Mr. Khan. Speaking to Coastal Mirror, he reiterated that Mr. Khan had continued the tradition of neglecting complaints related to Wakf properties as the State Wakf Minister taking a cue from his predecessors in the Congress.
“Even during his (Mumtaz Ali Khan’s) tenure he did not take complaints of Wakf property irregularities seriously. For instance, the Ramnagara Wakf property measuring about 7 acres where an Eidgah is also existing, has been taken over by one Timmegowda, a liquor baron. A PIL was filed and the Wakf Board won it in the High Court. It was clearly established that there was an encroachment and the government order was also in favour of the Wakf Board. The government order is with the Wakf to get back the encroached land but none of them including Mumtaz Ali Khan took action. When it came to my notice, I went there with the documents and the orders and made it clear that I want all the encroachments demolished. I will visit Ramanagara and I make sure that I myself bulldoze the encroached walls and property. I have made it clear that I want everything to be cleared in this month of Ramadan and that I would offer my Eid prayers at that very Eidgah”, Mr. Manippady says.
But Mr. Khan denies this charge. “He is lying. I had been to Ramanagara myself. When I was the Wakf Minister, I had convened a meeting with the Deputy Commissioner of the district, Assistant Commissioner and the Tahsildar of the area. The government order that he is talking about also came out because of me. I had informed the DC and SP to take further action and it is their responsibility. Besides, how can he say that he will go and bulldoze the encroachment himself? He doesn’t have the power to do it as per the Commission’s rules,” says Mr. Khan.
Mr. Manippady had in a recent revelation exposed some scholarship irregularities which had taken place under the nose of the Directorate of Minorities. After raiding a building built by Taj Education Trust in Bangalore, built to provide training to students for IAS and KAS exams, he brought to the attention of the media bundles and bundles of unopened covers bearing scholarship applications from students from across the State had been dumped in a room, which was supposed to be a library meant for the benefit of students. The other rooms in the building which were supposed to be classrooms for students, have been turned into lodges, he told Coastal Mirror. But Mr. Khan says this move of Mr. Manippady is unjustified.
“The Taj Trust has rightly stepped forward to slap a trespass case against him. It is a private trust and a private building. He has no right to enter the building and carry out a raid like that. The unopened covers that he is talking about are scholarship applications which the Directorate of Minorities received after the last date of submission of applications was over and but naturally they did not bother to open them up. The room too is being used by the Directorate on rent. The PWD department itself fixed rent for the room”, claims Mr. Khan.
The storm that Mr. Manippady raised with his report on the alleged Wakf irregularities in the state, which he submitted to the Chief Minister, irked quite a few Muslim leaders in the State. Although majority of those voices of dissent came from the Muslim leaders in the Congress and JD(S) quarters, Mr. Khan has also not held himself back. “It is not his report in the first place. M J Ali of Wakf Properties Protection Committee had been working on it for long and all Anwar Manippady has done is attach his name to the report and submit it to the Chief Minister. Besides, the figures that he has given to suggest the estimated amount of misappropriation have no basis. He submitted that report without conducting a survey. How can one finish such a detailed report of so many pages in such a short time?” asks Mr. Khan.
An allegation against Mr. Manippady generally made is that he is trying to hog the limelight and project himself as the more active Muslim leader in the BJP with an eye on the ministerial berth under minority quota. Speaking to Coastal Mirror, Mr. Manippady rubbished this charge and said that he had given in writing to the Chief Minister that he is not interested in a ministerial berth. His non-inclusion in the Shettar cabinet reinforces this, says he. “Now that the cabinet formation is over and my mission of carrying out my duties as Minorities Commission chief is still on, I don’t think anybody should be making this allegation against me that I am a ministerial aspirant. My political ambition is simple – I want to complete my responsibilities as a Minority Commission chief before I think of minister-ship”, says he.
But Mr. Khan continues to claim that Mr. Manippady is still eyeing the post and has his own interpretation of the non-inclusion of Mr. Manippady in the Shettar cabinet. “He wants it (ministerial berth) and that is the reason why he has maintained close proximity with RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat, who is one of the stronger voices in the RSS heard by the party leadership during consultations on various matters. Manippady missed out this time because a few other RSS leaders are on my side. In fact, I was told that my name was figuring in the Shettar cabinet list but at the last moment, with the Haladi Srinivas Shetty and Kota Srinivas Poojary equations also coming in, my name was dropped. Manippady has been trying to defame me and carrying out propagandas against me right from the beginning. He has spent lakhs on his propaganda against me. He has even got personal at times speaking against me with the media. I will slap a defamation case against him soon”, reveals Mr. Khan.
What turn this spat takes in the days to come, only time will tell. But with differences and infighting surfacing everywhere, the BJP leadership has a lot to worry about.