WITH his bonhomie with Imam Syed Ahmad Bukhari of Delhis Jama Masjid coming to an end,Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav is now wooing another Muslim leader,Maulana Tauqeer Raza of Bareilly,for support in the Lok Sabha elections.
Already two rounds of talks have been held between Raza and Mulayam.
Raza had floated his own outfit,Ittehad-e-Millat Council,before the assembly elections and has a lone MLA,Shahzil Islam from Bhojipura in Bareilly. He did not emerge as a game-changer but was certainly a spoilsport with the SP losing out on Muslim-dominated seats in Bareilly.
Raza draws his support mostly from Barelvi sect of Muslims and belongs to the illustrious religious family that heads this sect.
Realising his importance,Mulayam has started doling out favours to him. He has already given the ticket from Bareilly Lok Sabha seat to Ayesha Islam,who is the wife of Shahzil Islam. Also,Abid Khan has been appointed as Chairman,National Integration Council with minister of state status. Abid is personal secretary of Subhani Miyan,the successor of Barelvi sect and brother of Tauqeer Raza.
It is true that I had met Mulayam Singh Yadav twice and CM Akhilesh Yadav once. The agenda of the meeting was that they wanted me to support their party in the Lok Sabha elections, Tauqeer Raza told The Sunday Express.
However,Raza claimed that during these two meetings,he turned down Mulayams request of merging his IMC with the SP. I had stated in clear terms,we cannot merge but in politics there is always a chance of adjustment, he said. He claimed that the offer is still valid and soon another meeting with Mulayam will be held. I am being approached by Mulayams close aides for meeting him. Another meeting is likely very soon, he said.
Shahzil Islam said,We will be meeting the CM on Monday along with Maulana Tauqeer Raza. We will have seat adjustments but there will no merger with SP.
Raza claimed that Mulayams soft approach towards him is the need of the hour for the SP. They had done their homework and realised that for winning Bareilly seat they need my support. Even in adjoining areas we can tilt the balance. First they tried to win over my supporters but failed. So they are now sitting across the table with me, he said.
During the assembly elections,Mulayam had roped in Imam Syed Ahmad Bukhari,who snapped ties with the SP on Friday. That case was different. Bukhari had a deal with them while mine is a political party. Bukhari should have desisted from taking personal favours, Raza said.
During the 2009 Lok Sabha elections,Raza had supported the Congress which eventually won the Bareilly Lok Sabha seat. The Barelvi sect among Muslims holds considerable influence and has followers spread across the state.