Nizamuddin Rayeen is a Media incharge of Mumbai Congress, He served Mumbai Congress as a Minority Cell Chief ,and He is a Minority Face of Congress in Mumbai so infeed decided to talk with him about his life and discuss current political scenario
InFeed: How did your journey start and how did you get inspired to join politics?
Nizamuddin Rayeen : I was completing my education and doing SSC from Pratapgarh University, when I first got the idea to join politics, as I felt that somehow public service can be done through politics only. I had no one in my family or locality who was a into politics. So on 20th Jan 1980, I went to Mumbai for the first time, and that was the first time when two Congress stalwarts had left the party. They were Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna and Babu Jagjivan Ram. Bahuguna Ji created a political party or a Democratic Progressive Front, to be precise, which was launched on that day. He gave a song/slogan to give a direction to the country “Aaj Ka Bharat, Kal Ka Bharat”. The youth wing was named as “Youth For Democracy”, run by Baldev Chaudhary, as its UP Chief and a Supreme Court Senior Justice Faizan, as its All-India President. We got in touch with Justice Faizan, through Delhi President HKL Bhagat.
I wrote a letter to Bahuguna Ji, and asked him to send me to Mumbai, as I did not want to stay in Delhi or UP. And Bahuguna Ji replied back to me with an instruction to meet Mr Nand Kishor Nautiyal, who was Editor of Hindi Blitz at that time. I met him and he gave me work in Mumbai. After some time, I participated as a Congress worker in assembly elections as Bahuguna Ji was no more, and most of his followers had joined back the Congress party. I worked there for days but then I realized that this work will not give me any identity.
I decided to start a newspaper for a publication after some help from my friend, Ramlal Rahi, MP from Sitapur, and Deputy Home Minister in Narasimha Rao Government. There is a story behind this newspaper. Murli Deora was a big name in Congress, and he never listened to anyone at that time. I seeked an assembly ticket at that time, when people saw me as an amature in politics, and Deora Ji denied me the party ticket, even after Salman Khursheed’s support for myself. When I found that I will not be given the ticket, I told Rahi Ji that I can’t compete with Deora Ji without any background, so let me start a newspaper, and he arranged everything within a day. However, the newspaper was started as a weekly, but I found a few bigtime supporters in Raghunandan Dhar, a Kashmiri and his Maharashtrian wife, a Padma-Shri awardee. Her sister Dr. vijayatai patil (The book indradhanush authored by Dr. Vijayatai on communal harmony was presented as theisis to zorastrian college, which is affliated to UN PEACE UNIVERSITY, she was honoured with the degree M.phil for her research work), was a Royal Surgeon and Head of Gynecology in Royal College of London. She came back to India and treated me as her son, lending all her support for the newspaper, which was published in just 300-400 copies. That gave me a great confidence as I published interviews of big leaders. There was another paper published from Mumbai, which I bought 25 years ago in 9.8 lakhs. This have me great political mileage, as I joined big posts in Mumbai Congress Committee like President and Spokesperson in Vilas Rao Deshmukh’s government, who treated me as a close friend. I came to Mumbai under Gurudas Kamat, who was District President at one time, and was Chairman of Minority Department for 7 consecutive years.
One thing which influenced me the most was when during 1992 riots, I worked for the Hindu-Muslim unity in society, out of scope from any political activity. During that time, Jaya Bachchan Ji and Sunil Dutt Ji came in touch with me. I worked very hard as a newcomer with these big personalities, and this resulted in me getting many posts in Congress like Chairman, General Secretary, etc.
Then I did two major tasks in my capacity. One was to establish a NGO which is one of the biggest welfare groups of the country. We feed around 1200 people on a daily basis, three times a day, irrespective of their religion or caste. There is a Dargah of Noor Shah Baba, where 150-200 patients are kept on a daily basis. The patients who come to Tata Hospital from UP, we provide them place to stay and sleep. The patients who need to wait for their Cancer Operation and treatment at Tata Cancer Hospital, are kept at our place with proper medical facilities by our Doctors, so that the same person does not suffer any further due to shortage of money. This is our small effort to save human lives, which people don’t even think about in their imaginations. We have started this from places like Gujarat, Kolkata, etc. Bihar Government has supported us as they give Rs 1.2 Lakh for each patient coming from Bihar, so we can manage their treatment with the Tata Hospital.
In Maharashtra, Vilas Rao Deshmukh Government started the Rajiv Gandhi Medical Scheme, where 1-1.5 Lakh is given to patients, we manage their treatment if they have the funds, otherwise we give them financial aid for treatment. If you ever visit our center in Mumbai, you will see that we pay them cheques for their treatment, medicines are given free of cost, and then some amount is given for their daily expense.
Second big work, was for the religious harmony with Jaya Ji and others, we wrote a book on the same, which was honored by a University of Indian and Russian University Collaboration. These days politics has got a bad name but we are working in our full capacity to bring some smile on the face of the less privileged. You can find all these works across all kinds of social media platforms. I was even asked by Asaduddin Owaisi to join his party but the company did not go well, so I came back to Congress, instantly as Milind Deora became Mumbai President.
I come from a family of humble background. The book released by Nand Kumar Nautiyal in 2015 on the North Indians, has my profile also included. Nobody worked on Maulana Azad except me in Mumbai. Now there are Urdu articles being published on Maulana Azad, otherwise nobody used to write 4 lines on the legend. The works which I have accomplished are not quite easy for a Muslim politician. I got full support of Marathi and Dalits in Mumbai. Never can I forget the contribution of Sri Vilas Rao Deshmukh Ji, who helped me a lot as a friend.
However, due to huge corruption, I resigned from my post of Haj Committee. Recently, I resigned from Maulana Azad Foundation, as I never liked the way of working in such government departments. I worked on Hindi and Urdu languages, as well as to promote Ulemas in politics, as I feel good religious people can easily work for public welfare.
InFeed: When you came to join politics, was it the time when Sri Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister?
Nizamuddin Rayeen : No that was prior to the time when he did not become the PM. He was working in an airlines at that time in Delhi. I came to know about him as my friends used to work in Passport Sector.
InFeed: You must have witnessed the Mumbai city in 1980s. What differences do you find in today’s Mumbai?
Nizamuddin Rayeen : It’s changed completely, almost 1000 times. Earlier they used to say, that when a person comes to Mumbai and drinks its water here, he could not go back. Now the time has changed. You cannot hold a person responsible for a crime or a business in any area. Earlier, the city was for just 20% of the elite class, as 80% people used to live in ‘Chawls’. This is during the protests of mill-workers erupted in the city. Later the mills came to a shutdown and the labour were forced to either migrate or take up crime as a source of earning. Now, the new governments have cleared the property of mill workers and given them homes or money for their living. Their has been a great change in terms of modern technology as well. Those who will not be able to cope-up with this technology, may not survive in coming times. The old Mumbai of horse-carts, and then motor-cars has come to this now. There is no scope for the poor who have left the place and moved out.
InFeed: What do you think that if another Nizam comes to Mumbai today, will he be able to survive and become a successful politician like you, in these changing times of Mumbai city?
Nizamuddin Rayeen : The change that has come in lives is the planning that you need to bring yourself on to the right track. Earlier no planning was required and you can achieve things just with the flow. Now if a person is sitting out of country, even then he can plan everything for coming to this place, as this world has shrunk because of the Internet and Social Media. The truth has gone too far. The new age person has to fight two things today, whether a news is true or false, and whether that news actually exists or not. The media was so strong earlier as they relied upon the Editors, but nowadays, the publishing houses have rejected the Editors. They have brought the PR Agencies in the name of Editors, which is responsible to run your newspaper and editorial, as well as business. I have seen and followed all bigshots like Ram Manohar Tripathi, Nand Kishor Nautiyal, Haroon Rashid, etc, who were respected names in the media industry, and that is why I could survive in those times. Nowadays, media is restricted to drinks and parties by corporate houses.
InFeed: What do you think about the corporate houses funding and acquiring media sector these days?
Nizamuddin Rayeen : Everything is saleable these days. Earlier, maximum 50,000 was needed to fight an election. Now, there is no value of 50 crores as well. A Corporator contests in 5 crore, MLA spends 50 crores and MP spends 500 crore for an election. This is all sponsored by corporate houses only. That’s why all politicians are losing their dignity these days. Earlier, talented people used to live in Chawls and manage their lives pretty well and successfully, but now the same area has been taken over and huge towers are standing in their place, and no place is there for talented people. In this age of Internet, only a person who can change himself fast and keep ahead of time, only then he can taste success.
InFeed: As you have been a witness of the old Congress party, which was strong and deep-rooted, what difference do you see in that party against today’s Congress, which is struggling to find a face to lead the opposition? What opportunities do you see in present day Congress?
Nizamuddin Rayeen : The leaders of old Congress party were committed for the party. Since then, the leaders who joined Congress party from their respective parties, just for the sake of gaining power, caused great loss to the fundamentals and traditions of Congress. The people who stayed in Congress for a long time, did not change their thoughts, and took wrong decisions for the party, is why Congress had to see this day. If my father and grandfather are alive then they have a thinking that they will always vote for Congress for the rest of their lives. You cannot expect the same from new generation. This is the biggest reason, as then people used to join politics for social service and for loyalty to a party, not for personal gains. I have seen politicians in our country, who were born and brought up in small rooms, reached as high as Ministers, and yet they had kept nothing for themselves when they died. Present day politicians just want to promote the culture which they have carried along. On the other hand, a poor man still does not know how valuable his vote is. They can sell it just for some money or liquor. A rich man does not vote.
InFeed: But this must have been the case with every party.
Nizamuddin Rayeen : Yes, it’s same everywhere. But I feel the pain for Congress, because the parties which are ruling now or in between have no relation with the freedom movement of our country. Congress has been involved with the freedom struggle in its complete capacity. There was no issue of Hindu-Muslim during that time. Maulana Azad stayed in the house of a Hindu associate throughout his life. Even his servant was a Hindu. But nowadays, if you just speak your name and people start making an opinion against you. And this all has started for a political reason. You can see the situation in Kashmir today, as shown by NDTV and any other channel. This idea came from the power of rule and by becoming a slave of money. Congress doesn’t dictate any religion to its followers, but the Constitution given by Baba Saheb Ambedkar, and to abide by it. But the new generation coming into Congress also thinks about the temple politics, as they have seen just last 20 years of politics, whereas, our generation has seen a longer period of time. So they don’t want to learn the history, and these parties are trying to feed them what is in their agenda. This is also why changes and issues have come into the Congress party.
InFeed: Earlier there used to be big names in politics, who have studied from Islamic Madarsas and made it big in life. Nowadays, with modernization in all forms of education, Madarsas also need to be uplifted with new age technologies, so that when children who complete their studies from such places and move out, they are aware of latest trends as well. What do you think in this regard?
Nizamuddin Rayeen : Madarsas have been very influential in creating freedom fighters and revolutionaries in the pre-independence era. The Maulvis and Ulemas (Clerics) who were educated in those Madarsas have fought in the struggle against British, alongwith their brothers from all communities. The Ulemas were equally eager to drive out the British from India, without any second thoughts about the Independence of India. Muslims give a part of their income, as Zakat (Charity) for these Madarsas working for the education of poor children who are unable to go to better schools. If the government is able to provide a better option to such institutions, without increasing the overall cost and expenditure, the objective can be achieved. There must be some means of such provisions by the Government which can make a technically-advanced Ulema, to serve the country in the best of his capacity. But it must be made sure that the autonomous nature of those institutions is not lost in this process, otherwise the situation will be like the government institutions where teachers have no accountability.
InFeed: Why is it that these days, the Muslim leadership is not able to communicate with the masses, or not able to give a message to the people of India?
Nizamuddin Rayeen : The simplest reason for this problem is that a Muslim leader is afraid of losing elections nowadays, if he speaks his heart out. I believe that everything what happens in one’s life, is written well in advance. So there is nothing to be afraid of.
InFeed: The points you are making are from a religious point of view and as a proud Muslim, as well as a politician. How do you plan to handle such a challenging stand in the present situation of our country?
Nizamuddin Rayeen : The Indian politics today, is going on a path, which has no future. The lies and deceits have taken over the complete picture these days, but it’s a very short-lived phenomenon.
The Muslims of India should never be insecure in this land, as India is their motherland and their forefathers’ blood is buried in this soil. Just because of a few Muslims going out of their way and doing or endorsing something that is against the laws of religion, it does not make it applicable for all other followers of that religion.
InFeed: Why is it that when a Muslim leader makes it big in his career, he calls himself a leader of just one religion and not for the whole nation? We have had big leaders like Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan and Maulana Azad in the past, who never represented a community, but the whole nation.
Nizamuddin Rayeen : In this nation, there is no Muslim leader born after Maulana Azad and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, who has been accepted as a leader by all Muslims. Today, all the Muslim leaders are either restricted to their areas or parties only. The things got out of the hands of Muslims, just because after Maulana Azad and Kidwai, there were no efforts to carve out good leaders from the community. And it was the responsibility of our governments to do it for them. When Mrs Indira Gandhi was PM, Deputy Speaker was Dr Rafik Zakariya, who was asked by her to prepare a report on condition of Muslims in India. He once told me that their conditions as per the report is worse than the Dalits of this country. This is after Muslims rulers had already been in power for 800 years. Our leaders did not take up the responsibility and so they could not rise above pity politics.
Now BJP was voted by only 18 crore people out of country 130 crore population. Around 10 crore voted for Congress, but still the total does not go beyond 40 crores. This means, that 80 crore have still not voted but the government is made by those 18 crore voters. How can we develop in such circumstances? The change will come over a long time. The Congress did not pay any attention to the mistakes done in the past, so now they are paying for it. But our leaders should touch the lives of people and bring up their demands in front. I’m a Congress person, and if I cannot tell my party about the issues of my community, who else will. So this is my responsibility to bring up such issues in front of my leadership. If I am limited to my ticket seeking and election, then I don’t relate with the party ideology.