Two days after Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari “reminded” the state government of its promises made to the Muslim community before the 2012 assembly polls, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav Saturday chose an “intellectuals’ meet” to put to rest any impression that his government was “lagging behind in any way”.
“We never hesitated in giving positions to Muslims in party organisation, cabinet and government ranks. We appointed (from the Muslim community) the chief secretary (Jawed Usmani) and maximum number of DGPs. We have (a Muslim) leader of the House, too,” the CM said.
Meeting Akhilesh and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav at the latter’s residence on Thursday, Bukhari had questioned the party’s move to not nominate a single Muslim candidate for seven possible seats in Rajya Sabha. In a veiled threat, he had also warned that the SP may face an “Assam-like situation” in the Assembly polls due next year “if the promises made to Muslims were not fulfilled” by then.
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Addressing a gathering of Muslims, Akhilesh claimed that there were “certain forces” who were “busy conspiring” against his government, and posed faith in the “intellectuals sitting in the hall” to “understand that my government has done a lot of work (for Muslims)”. “This government has worked by maintaining a balance in caste and religion, between poor and rich, among urban and rural areas,” he said.
He informed the crowd that his government was “working” to give facilities like round-the-clock power supply to weavers. A ‘bunkar bazar’ in Lucknow will be inaugurated soon while such market places are being developed in Noida and Ghaziabad too, he said, and claimed that “it’s possible weavers may get electricity free of cost in the future”.
Akhilesh termed reservation as “a big issue”, claiming “no government can provide it until an amendment in the Constitution”. “Samajwadi Party favours reservation on the basis of population. We will continue to fight for it,” he said and listed several state-run schemes in which his government has ensured that “20 per cent beneficiaries are people from the minority community”.
During the campaign, he said he will ask voters to compare his government’s work with those done by the current government at the Centre and with the BSP government of the past.
“If we get your support, the SP will again form the government with a majority,” he said.
Before the CM had taken the stage, Basic Education Minister and Leader of House in Legislative Council Ahmed Hasan had listed the government’s achievements, pointing out how “Mayawati during her time did not appoint any Muslim officer But the Akhilesh government appointed Jawed Usmani as chief secretary, and Rizwan Ahmed and Javeed Ahmed to the post of DGP”.
Hasan also said that it was the Mulayam Singh Yadav’s government that had “protected the mosque (Babri Masjid) but the BJP demolished it”. “All of you, remember that Akhilesh is an educated and a courageous person. SP and its government will always be with you,” he said.
He also claimed that no Muslim person has been arrested on false charges of terror in the past four years in UP, and branded “Muslim leaders like Asaduddin Owaisi of Hyderabad and Badruddin of Assam” as “BJP agents who are working to divide the Muslim electorate”.