Imran Masood, 43, has a reputation as a “firebrand” with a “short-temper” and a “Robin Hood” image, especially among young Muslims in Saharanpur.
Masood entered politics as an understudy of his uncle, the former Congress Rajya Sabha MP Rashid Masood, about a decade ago. Over the past year and a half, he has developed formidable political clout of his own, having parted ways with his uncle after the senior leader began to promote his son Shazan Masood.
Shazan is now the Samajwadi Party candidate from Saharanpur. Imran himself has switched between Congress and SP thrice in the last three years.
People in Imran’s area say he has never shied away from using strong words for the BJP, RSS and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
While joining the SP in September 2013, he had blamed the RSS and Modi for the riots in Muzaffarnagar. He has apologised for using “unconstitutional words” against Modi, but says that he continues to be angry with the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
The video that has landed him in trouble was shot six months ago, he says, and, “Though the choice of words was wrong, it all came out in extreme anger against Modi for his acts.”
The Lok Sabha election will be the first political test for the self-confessed “Soldier of Rahul Gandhi” away from the shadow of his uncle. Imran won the 2007 assembly election as an independent candidate from Muzaffarabad constituency in Sahranpur. In 2012, he contested the Nakur assembly seat as a Congress candidate, losing to the BSP nominee.
Despite having charted an independent course, Imran refrains from criticising Rashid Masood. “I would not like to say anything about my uncle,” he says.
Rashid has been Saharanpur’s MP five times, but was disqualified as Rajya Sabha member last year following conviction.