Morteza Aqa-Tehrani, a leader of Iran’s hardliner Paydari party, holding the majority in the parliament (Majles), demands more seats in the next election in March.
The party held its general assembly at a mosque in Tehran this week where Aqa-Tehrani asserted that Paydari is not seeking to monopolize power. This is a claim many politicians in Iran would readily dispute based on the party's actions in the past few months. Many politicians in the inner circles of the ruling elite have argued that Paydari is behind the political "purification" project which aims to purge the Iranian political landscape, to ensure monopoly on power by ultraconservatives.
Paydari is also one of the main contestants in the upcoming parliamentary elections and despite Aqa-Tehrani's claim of not seeking dominance, it is fiercely fighting other groups to win the lion's share of parliamentary seats. This behavior has even annoyed an insider in Khamenei’s inner circle, former Majles Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, who accused Paydari of "radicalism".
According to Khabar Online website, Aqa-Tehrani, who is currently the head of the Cultural Committee of the Majles and has been the driving force behind the law to restrict Iranians' access to social media and the Internet in general, said at the party's general assembly that the party takes pride in promoting the restrictions. He argued that "Islam has certain rules for better utilization of social media," while Islamic precepts were formed hundreds of years ago.
He also said that his party has been behind the law to criminalize and ban abortion. He further claimed credit for helping the government in circumventing US sanctions. Although he did not present any evidence other than saying that he took part in an inter-parliamentary meeting in Africa, yet it is widely known in Iran that "circumventing sanctions" could mean money laundering and financial corruption, sometimes through acting as private companies that sell Iran's oil at a discount in unofficial markets.
Quoting the founding father of Paydari, the late Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, the cleric said: "Mesbah made it clear upon that Paydari Party’s fundamental principle should be Velayah (rule by the Supreme Leader). He went further by quoting ayatollah Mesbah as having said that “People should be absolutely obedient to the Supreme Leader."
A video exists on social media showing Ayatollah Mesbah trying to kiss Khamenei's feet before a meeting as a token of his absolute obedience. Khamenei, however, prevented him from doing so.
Mesbah said many times during the past decades that the Supreme Leader is appointed by God, not appointed, or elected by the people. Aqa-Tehrani said: "Based on that, we should see what the Supreme Leader wants and then we should obey him and defend him against seditionists.
This can be a hint as to why Khamenei facilitated Paydari’s success in the 2020 parliamentary elections by allowing his loyalists in the Guardian Council to disqualify many other candidates.
Reports say that Mesbah Yazdi's son, Mojtaba, was also present at Paydari Party's meeting and offered guidelines to party leaders and members. Khabar Online website in Tehran wrote with a latent sarcasm that "Mojtaba followed the footsteps of his father." He said any intelligent movement needs a roadmap, a leader and a guide. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini offered the roadmap for the Islamic revolution and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is leading it.
Reformist commentator Sadeq Zibakalam commented that as a result of the disqualification of non-conservative candidates and political purification, even fewer Iranians will vote in the upcoming election in March 2024 than the previous election which set an all-time record in low turnout in Iran.