New Delhi: You would think a religious leader like Shahi Imam would refrain from talking about politics, but Syed Ahmad Bukhari has often hit the headlines for his political statements than religious sermons.
Stating that politicians have used Muslims for their own gain, he said, “We are treated as football and political parties do net practice with our votes.”
Speaking to Gulf News in an exclusive interview, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, India’s biggest mosque, said: “All political parties have cheated and betrayed us. While some did in the name of secularism and stabbed us in the back, others can’t to be trusted for their role in communal riots.”
The Shahi Imam wants to teach the “opportunist” Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, whom he supported in the last elections, a lesson. “He assured us that if we voted for his party, they would look after our interests. Otherwise, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with its anti-Muslim stand, would come to power in Uttar Pradesh (UP).
“Singh gave us in writing that he would work towards reservation, education, empowerment, security and health issues for the Muslims. But in turn, he shed blood of our brethren all over Uttar Pradesh after joining hands with the same communal forces.”
Imam Bukhari added, “Today, both [Narendra] Modi and Mulayam are our enemy No 1.”
The religious leader continued, “Even though Mulayam declared the BJP planned the [recent] riots in Muzaffarnagar, he refused to let the Central Bureau of Investigation probe it. This proves that the SP and BJP are one and the same and we have to defeat them in the elections.”
Well aware of the strong probability of the BJP winning in UP, Imam Bukhari said, “I want to ensure that Muslims, comprising 22 per cent of the population, do not vote for either the BJP or SP. That leaves us with the Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress and we need to choose between the bad and the evil.”
But what about the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)? He said, “Working in a haphazard manner, they are trying to fool the public by raising the issue of corruption. Nations do not break because of corruption, but they do due to communalism. AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal had desired to meet me during Anna Hazare’s fast in 2011. But none of them had anything concrete to offer us.”
Today, Imam Bukhari fancies West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee as a messiah of the Muslims. He had written letters to all chief ministers, except those of BJP-ruled states inquiring about implementing the Sachar Commission’s recommendations on the welfare of the Muslim population.
Only Mamata responded, and that is why Imam Bukhari is recommending her as the next prime minister.
Calling the Gujarat development propaganda a hype created by the BJP, he stated that nothing had changed for the minority community which continues to live in deplorable conditions in the state. Imam Bukhari said, “We do not want Modi to come to power. His true face was evident during the Gujarat riots.”
Like he did a decade back, the religious leader deliberated on floating a political outfit for Muslims. “We need to become a strong force and fight for our rights. It will put an end to go to one party or the other with a begging bowl after every election.”