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India: Ex-senior cop launches Muslim-Dalit party


MUMBAI, (Times of India): Members of Dalit and Muslim communities floated a new political party called Awami Vikas Party on Tuesday.

Headed by retired ACP Shamsher Khan Pathan with senior Dalit journalist Baban Kamble as his deputy, the party was touted as a confluence of Bheem (followers of B R Ambedkar) and Meem (Muslims).

"We will fight elections without any pre-poll alliance with any other party ," said Pathan, who retired on Monday. When asked if his party would be seen as an intruder since SP in the state claims to represent Muslims, Pathan said: "SP is headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh. It is confined to UP. We are giving an alternative to the exploited groups."

Kamble, who edits the Marathi daily Samrat said, "We have been cheated. Dalits have been kept in dark in the name of reservation while Muslims have voted for the so-called secular parties for because they were promised protection. We will remove these facades ," said Kamble.

Interestingly, the party's core group comprises retired police officers, bureaucrats, activists and educationists. RTI activist M A Khalid, who hails from Kerala, cited the example of his state where political empowerment of Muslims has enabled them to influence policy decisions. "In Kerala there are seven Muslim-run medical colleges. But in Maharashtra Muslims excel only in jails. The situation will change once levers of power are in our hands," declared Khalid.

Javed Pasha of Nagpur called upon the Muslims to choose their rulers intelligently.

"If you had chosen your rulers carefully, Sachar Committee would not have said that you are behind the Dalits on every parameter of development," Pasha said.

Speakers added that shakhas and branches of the party will be opened across Maharashtra and their target was 2014 elections.

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