The father of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Umar Khalid, who has been caught in a controversy for allegedly raising anti-India slogans, will be contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from the Jangipur seat in West Bengal, reports The Hindu.
S Q R Ilyas will be standing on a ticket from the Welfare Party of India (WPI) in a seat which is the Muslim-dominated Murshidabad district. The seat was previously won by President Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit.
He explained his decision to contest saying the ‘condition of the people of Murshidabad was worsening’.
“Seven to eight lakh people migrated to Kolkata from this area and there is very little employment opportunity despite the fact that Jangipur produces good quality jute and mango. But those can’t be processed locally and hence they had to go to Kolkata. I’m highlighting such issues in my campaign,” he said.
The WPI is known to be primarily geared towards Dalit and minority issues. Although the Left front has left the Jangipur seat to the Congress as per their seat-sharing arrangement, the WPI may have the potential to play spoilsport by splitting the Muslim vote.
As per an interview with The Indian Express, Ilyas is a former member of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) but left the organisation before it was banned. He questioned the negative media portrayal of his son on the basis of his personal history, stating, “If you are branding my communist son a traitor because of my past, and holding him to trial in TV studios, it is worse than targeting… He is being punished in media studios for having a Muslim name.”