Regarded as a “firebrand” leader and carrying a “Robinhood” image, especially among the Muslim youngsters in Saharanpur, 43-year-old Imran Masood had entered politics as a “right hand” man of his uncle and former Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Rashid Masood about a decade back.
Over the years, Imran made a place for himself while working at the grass-root level for his uncle. For past one-and-a-half years, he has developed his own clout in Saharanpur, after parting ways with his uncle, who had started promoting his son Shazan Masood, who is now Samajwadi Party candidate from Saharanpur.
In past three years, Imran has switched between Congress and Samajwadi Party thrice.
He might have immediately apologised for use of words in his “hate speech” against Narendra Modi, but locals inform that even in the past too, he openly spoke against BJP, RSS and Modi. While joining the SP last year, he had blamed RSS and Modi for Muzaffarnagar riots.
Imran claims that the video footage, on the basis of which the case was lodged against him, was taken six months back when he was with the SP.
“I am not communal and I have many Hindu friends and supporters. First of all, this speech was given six months back, when I was in the SP. One of my friends, who is seen in the video is no more. But still, I accept that my use of words against Modi was wrong and apologise for it.” he said.
Calling himself a “soldier of Rahul Gandhi,” he said, “Though, the use of words were wrong but it all came out in an extreme anger against Modi for his acts.”
Though, Imran claims to enjoy large support base in Saharanpur and the surrounding districts, the Lok Sabha election would be his first test as an independent leader away from the image of his uncle. It also assumes importance, as Imran would be contesting as Congress candidate against his own cousin, Shazan Masood, from Saharanpur.
Earlier, Imran had successfully contested 2007 Assembly election as an independent candidate from Muzaffrabad assembly constituency in Sahranpur. In 2012 , he contested from Nakur, also in Saharanpur, as Congress candidate but lost to BSP. He had contested both the elections with support of his uncle.
He still prefers to give Rashid Masood his due respect, “I would not like to speak anything about my uncle” he said.
Meanwhile, asked about his image in Saharanpur, Surendra Rajput, Congress spokesperson, who hails from the district said, “He is a firebrand leader and carries the image of a Robinhood among younger generation in Saharanpur. It is his easy connectivity with grass-root level workers that makes him popular among them.”
Rashid Masood has remained five time MP from Saharanpur in the past but was disqualified as Rajya Sabha MP last year following conviction in a criminal case.