The Bharatiya Janata Party fought the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election on a carefully crafted electoral strategy that was meant to polarise and consolidate Hindu vote. The party didn’t field any Muslim candidate out of the 403 in the elections. But, firebrand leader Yogi Adityanath, who took oath as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister on Sunday, has included a lone Muslim leader in his cabinet – Mohsin Raza. Though he may seem the odd entrant into Adityanath’s cabinet, the multifaceted Raza, crowned Prince of Lucknow in a pageant in mid 1990s, has a more interesting past than most seasoned politicians.
Before making his foray into politics, Raza tried his hand at cricket, modelling, and is a known socialite in Lucknow. He has had the odd TV acting stint and even tried his luck at an entry in Hindi films.
Raza is married to Fozia Sarwat Fatima and belongs to a zamindar (wealthy landowners) family that hails from Safipur town in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district. He was born on January 15, 1968 in Lucknow.
Raza trained at the MRF Pace Foundation based in Chennai and went on to play two matches in the Ranji Trophy representing Uttar Pradesh. He didn’t have a great showing as a bowler picking only 4 wickets in 2 first class matches with an average of 42.75. Batting figures were worse with five runs scored in two first class matches. His first class cricketing career ran between 1987-89.
Raza has alo participated in beauty pageants and in 1995 he won the Prince of Lucknow crown. He also acted, though not in a prominent role, in the Doordarshan’s acclaimed TV series ‘Neem ka Ped’ written by award winning lyricist and poet Rahi Masoom Raza starring thespians like Pankaj Kapoor and Arun Bali. He persistently kept trying his hand at Hindi film industry but did not get any break.
In 1999, he was made the chairman of Congress’ sports cell but after he was given the position of convener, rifts emerged and it meant his stay had come to an end. He suspected foul play against him and felt it would be best to leave.
His wife fought local elections independently a few years ago and lost by a margin of 125 votes. Then, in 2010, Raza floated his own political outfit by the name of Safipur Vikas Manch but that did not prove to be a successful endeavour.
After so many failed attempts, he joined the BJP ahead of the General Elections in 2014 and was made the party spokesman in 2016.