WITH THE exit of Naseemuddin Siddiqui from the BSP, the party has started inducting new leaders from the Muslim community. Former BSP minister and Congress leader Anees Ahmed Khan, alias Phool Babu, told mediapersons in Lucknow on Saturday that he has rejoined the party and will work towards bring Muslims into the party fold. “Naseemuddin did not let any Muslim leader grow in the BSP. He got me sacked twice. It was my demand that he should be removed from the party. Now that he has been removed, I have rejoined the party. This should have happened a long time ago,” he said.
Before Siddiqui was expelled, former Union minister and SP leader Rasheed Masood had joined BSP on May 4. On Saturday, party chief Mayawati announced names of three leaders, including two Muslims, as BSP’s official media panelists — the first such move by the BSP, which has never had an official spokesperson. Mayawati said that M H Khan, Faizan and Ummed Singh will put forth their views on behalf of the BSP in media discussions on all matters.
Notwithstanding these moves, Siddiqui’s expulsion and his decision to take on Mayawati head-on is likely to hit BSP’s attempts to woo the minority community, which constitutes more than 18 per cent of the state’s population. It could play a significant role in the outcome of upcoming urban local bodies’ elections, which the BSP will contest on its symbol for the first time.
Dozens of Muslim leaders, including candidates of UP polls and functionaries of the party’s Muslim brotherhood committees, have shown solidarity with Siddiqui, who had been BSP’s most prominent Muslim face for over two decades. He was the only Muslim among BSP’s national office-bearers.
As of now, there are five Muslims among BSP’s 19 MLAs and one Muslim MLC among its 10 members. Munquad Ali, the only Muslim MP of the party, is also a party coordinator and is being seen as the most prominent Muslim face after Siddiqui’s ouster. He was the BSP in-charge of west UP until 2014 and was shifted to eastern UP after the party’s poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections.
A former BSP MP who has joined Siddiqui said they are in touch with several party MLAs but have not asked them to rebel against Mayawati, since that would make them lose Assembly membership. Others who have joined him are sitting MLC Brajesh Kumar Singh and several former MPs and MLAs.
Afzal Ansari, former MP and brother of BSP MLA Mukhtar Ansari, said Siddiqui was “a big leader” in BSP “but his exit will not affect the party’s Muslim outreach…. He never raised any issues affecting Muslims…. actually worked like a barrier in the party; he was scared someone else will take his position.”
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