The family members of late Bharat Ratna shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan performed during Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s roadshow in Varanasi Saturday morning. The family later clarified that maestro’s son Ustad Zamin Hussain Khan and other family members played the shehnai on the party’s request and that the performance was apolitical.
Ustad’s grandson Affaq Haider, also a shehnai player and part of the entourage, categorically denied that the family has offered any kind of political support to any candidate. “Just because we played for Rahul does not mean that we are supporting him. It will be wrong to conclude that we are getting involved in politics.”
Not very far from the starting point of his roadshow, Rahul had stopped for a few minutes, around 8.30 am, and garlanded the photo of the late Ustad. “We performed at the Nai Sarak-Beniya Bagh crossing, said Haider, adding his father played ‘Bhopal Todi’, which is a morning raga, followed by Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite ‘Ram Dhun’, Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram.
“Rahul greeted my father from his vehicle. He could not get down due to huge crowd. The motorcade left after five-odd minutes while the programme continued for nearly two hours,” he said.
Haider pointed out the family had played in a BJP programme on April 22. “It was a programme of intellectuals and BJP leaders like M J Akbar and Subramanian Swamy had attended the function,” he pointed out.
Haider said they had received a request from Ajay Rai, the Congress candidate for whom Rahul was holding the road show.