In a move that can change the game in several seats with Muslim votes in Uttar Pradesh, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Tuesday offered “unconditional support” to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
A delegation sent by Bukhari and led by his brother Tariq met BSP’s Muslim face and national general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui at his residence in Lucknow Monday with the offer. Siddiqui said, he will convey Bukhari’s message to BSP chief Mayawati on Wednesday.
“I will be meeting some clerics arriving from Bareilly today. I will talk to Behenji on Wednesday and she will take the final decision,” Siddiqui said.
Party sources said the talks between Bukhari, whose relation with the SP has strained, started earlier this month with BSP Rajya Sabha member Salim Ansari calling upon the cleric in Delhi.
“I met him (Bukhari) and he said he was ready to offer unconditional support to the BSP as he is unhappy with SP policies. The delegation sent by him also met Siddiqui sahab and we hope the final decision on the support will be taken in a few days,” Ansari told The Indian Express over phone.
Contacted, Bukhari said, he will support the BSP unconditionally and will not seek any Lok Sabha ticket or any seat for MLA or MLC. “But, there are some issues related to welfare of Muslims, on which we want the BSP chief’s formal approval,” Bukhari said.
“We always wanted that Dalits and Muslims, who are equally aggrieved sections of the society, should come together. Their coming together will also make them an important force as they are nearly 50 per cent of population,” he added.
The issues raised by Bukhari are implementation of Sachar Committee recommendations and fast trial of terror cases so that innocent Muslims do not suffer if they are implicated in such cases.
BSP sources said, while Mayawati has been wary of hobnobbing with seers and clerics, this time she could go ahead as it will help her reach out to Muslims, a segment she is eyeing to gain some seats. Addressing her party’s rally in Lucknow on January 15, she had promised to “seriously pursue” the implementation of Sachar Committee recommendations.
Mayawati, who has been attacking the BJP constantly and recently reiterated that she would not let Narendra Modi become Prime Minister, has decided to field 19 Muslim candidates in the state so far. The name of nineteenth candidate, Haji Yakoob Qureshi, was announced for Moradabad Lok Sabha seat Tuesday by party’s western UP in-charge Munquad Ali.
In February 2006, Qureshi had hit the headlines when he publicly announced a reward of Rs 51 crore for anyone who would behead a Danish cartoonist who had made a caricature of Prophet Mohammad.