Politicians fume as Shahi Imam backs Congress

New Delhi, Apr. 5: Declaration by the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid mosque in Delhi to endorse the Congress triggered a row among many political parties on Saturday.

On Friday Bukhari appealed to the country’s Muslims, who at 13 percent of the population are the country’s largest religious minority, to vote for the Congress.

This came three days after Congress President Sonia Gandhi met with a Muslim delegation led by Bukhari, pitching to help nurture the cause of “secularism”, which however gathered powerful dissenting voices and much criticism.

Commenting on Bukhari’s endorsement, journalist and BJP leader M. J. Akbar said the Muslim community needs development and not communal politics.

“Every five years you can’t gather votes on the basis of religion. I believe my community especially has to come out of this kind of politics and instead seek development, employment and education. And I am sure that when they will focus on development and education then they will have a clear vision, for now and future,” said Akbar.

The focus of election campaign has changed over the past week from development to a more religious tone, with BJP accusing Congress party of polarising the country along religious lines by overtly courting the votes of Muslims.

At a rally, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi accused the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) of promoting the slaughter of cows, viewed as sacred by many of the country’s majority Hindus.

Critics said the comments were also a veiled swipe at Muslims, who run much of the abattoir business in India.

However, a leader of regional Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Sudhindra Bhadoria condemned Bukhari’s action and said he has approached several parties in the past.

“He is a religious leader and this does not suit him. If he looks at himself, he has approached Mulayam Singh Yadav (Chief of Samajwadi Party), Congress and several other parties including ours many times. Minorities recognise the work done by Mayawati (BSP Chief) throughout Uttar Pradesh and across the nation. Therefore, we won’t be affected by anyone,” said Bhadoria.

However, Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi justified Bukhari’s support and rather slammed Modi.

“You can’t be divided to fight communalism, all non-religion sects have to stand united to fight communalism. This is not the time to blame and accuse each other. All anti-communal forces have to come together to fight against communal Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party,” said Chaturvedi. (ANI)