The diminutive cleric Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan of Bareilly is giving sleepless nights to mainstream political parties. Once a supporter of the Congress,Raza has floated his own political outfit Ittehad-e-Millat Council and fielded candidates in the Assembly election.
He may not be able to emerge as a game changer but is certainly a spoilsport. Drawing his support mainly from the Barelvi sect of Muslims,Khan belongs to the illustrious religious family that heads this sect. He is hopeful of winning a few seats and getting a share in power in the new government.
We were being fooled by various political parties. They had adopted a use and throw policy towards Muslims. The community was bewildered. It is better to wield political power,so I took the plunge. People have high expectations from Muslim clerics and there is no harm if they are in politics, said Khan,justifying his stand for turning political.
Khan candidly admitted that he had supported the Congress in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. It was due to our support that the Congress won from Bareilly and other places. After that they dumped us. We were assured of an alliance in Assembly elections. Senior Congress leaders like Digvijaya Singh met us and we had demanded only 20 seats, said Raza.
So what went wrong? The Congress wanted us to contest on their symbols. We did not accept it and broke the dialogue, he said.
With several Muslim outfits mushrooming during elections,Raza blames the Muslim leadership for the inconsequential status of the community in politics. Muslim leaders place their personal interests before the communitys interest. The Peace Party is an apt example: they fielded candidates only to divide Muslim votes, he said.