Appealing to the “secular voters” in the country, the Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari Friday announced his support to the Congress in the general elections as “the country faces the challenge of communalism and all Muslims have to fight this together”. Bukhari added that communalism, and not corruption, divided a country and its people.
Bukhari said though the differences with the Congress stand, “It does not mean that the country will be handed over to communal parties.” He alleged that no political party had given the Muslims their rights and that the community continued to struggle but in every election, they must exercise their right to chose a government.
An endorsement of the party was being expected after the Friday prayers at Jama Masjid, however, the imam refrained form making any political references in his khutba (address). Bukhari said the country has to chose between the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and the face of communalism. “Discussions were held with Congress president Sonia Gandhi over issues like communal riots, education, employment, implementation of the recommendations of the Sachar Committee. Therefore, today I declare my support for the Congress with the belief that it will fulfil its promises if it comes to power,” he said.
Stating that he was expressing his opinion as a citizen and a voter and it was not binding on anyone, Bukhari also expressed his support for Mamata Banerjee’s TMC in West Bengal and Lalu Prasad’s RJD in Bihar. “The TMC has made some efforts towards solving the problems of Muslims. It can be expected from the measures taken by them that in future too, Mamata Banerjee will sincerely strive to solve issues of the Muslims,” Bukhari said.
Bukhari distanced himself from the SP and the BSP stating that both had failed to protect Muslims in UP. “I am not saying this, the SC observed that the UP government was responsible for the Muzaffarnagar riots,” he said.