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Brentford TV HOUNSLOW MOSQUE'S POWER BROKER: MR REHMAN, IF YOU WANT TO PLAY POLITICS, TELL US WHAT POLICIES YOU MOST FAVOUR. FACE PUBLIC SCRUTINY. LET'S HAVE TRANSPARENCY.Shafiq Rehman has recently raised his personal profile. Although he's not widely known across the whole community, some claim he will shortly have more power and influence over the Borough Council than most actual councillors. Is that true?Mr Rehman is General Secretary of Hounslow Mosque – the Jamia Masjid & Islamic Centre, in Wellington Road South. This week he's been photographed out and about canvassing for Labour. Meanwhile his son Farhaan is standing in next Thursday's local elections. It's Hounslow Heath, a fairly safe Labour seat, and Farhaan is expected to win.In the last two months Mr Rehman has been busy helping to get people adopted as Council candidates, especially in the west of the Borough. The result is that 20 or so Councillors will have very close links to local mosques, mainly to his; although 14% of the community, Muslims will make up 40% or so of Labour councillors. It turns him into a pivotal figure. Some say this makes Mr Rehman a power broker, the person who will effectively decide who becomes the Borough's next Council Leader.The likely winner is Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, photographed two weeks ago with Mr Rehman at Iftar at the Mosque. Had he just got the General Secretary's nod of approval? If he had, he should romp home when Councillors gather to vote on who will replace Steve Curran. Clr Rajawat combines competence with experience. In the same picture is Cllr Samia Chaudhary, who may become Deputy Leader; and Cllrs Raghwinder Siddhu and Hina Mir, who may be awarded Cabinet posts.With Partygate and now Porngate affecting voter sentiment, the probability is that Labour will win Hounslow by a landslide on Thursday, with no more than a Tory rump in opposition, perhaps supplemented by Theo Dennison as an Independent. That means most debate will take place inside the Labour Group, behind closed doors, removed from public scrutiny and questioning, and with Councillors whipped into silence. Ditto for the Cabinet itself. Even strong Labour supporters do not think this is necessarily a good thing.For the next four years Mr Rehman is likely to be in a position to exercise his very considerable influence. What does he wish the Council to do? If he wants to be involved in politics, as he is, he should step forward and say what policies he most favours. What sort of country does he want? If he is going to play an important role in our democratic system, then he should be prepared to face public scrutiny, beyond that of the mosque. Let us have transparency.However, transparency is a responsibility which extends beyond Mr Rehman, to Cllr Rajawat and all Councillors. We invite Cllr Rajawat, and others, to comment.

Vanessa Smith ● 68d