Three days before the general elections, the spectre of communal polarisation is back. A leading Muslim cleric openly intervened in politics urging Muslims to vote chiefly for the Congress, and a sting operation claiming the Babri Masjid demolition was meticulously planned by the Hindu right wing drew sharp political reactions.
Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, Syed Bukhari, announces his support for Congress in the coming Lok Sabha elections during a press conference in New Delhi. (Ajay Aggarwal/HT photo)
On Friday, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, shahi imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, appealed to Muslims to support the Congress as it was the only political option they had.
Bukhari’s announcement came three days after he met Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who had appealed for a united move to stop the so-called “secular vote” from splitting.
Read: Bukhari’s support may not help Congress in Delhi
“Communalism is a bigger issue than corruption and that is why we have decided to support the Congress,” said Bukhari. He also appealed to Muslims to vote for the Congress’ ally in Bihar, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). But in West Bengal, Bukhari has urged Muslims to support Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress.
“I appeal to the voters of West Bengal to make the candidates of TMC successful as whoever forms government at the Centre, the role of TMC will be crucial. Since Banerjee has given us assurance that she will never support NDA,” said Bukhari.
Bukhari, who had supported the Samajwadi Party (SP) in the 2009 polls, said Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party had betrayed Muslims.
“Voting for the SP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will be a waste. The nation faces danger from communal forces. We should ensure secular votes are not divided,” he said. He also said Muslims needed to have a party of their own.
Bukhari’s open political intervention comes on a day when Cobrapost, an investigative website, claimed it had uncovered — through a sting operation — a carefully-orchestrated plot by the Sangh Parivar and Shiv Sena to demolish the Babri Masjid in 1992. The sting recorded the testimonies of 23 individuals who, it alleges, were responsible for the “conspiracy behind the fall of Babri Masjid”.
Read: BJP demands ban, Cong welcomes sting on Babri
Speaking to HT, BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, said, “This will disrupt the peaceful election environment in the country. We have asked the EC to take immediate action and stop its broadcast and dissemination in any form as it will disrupt communal harmony.” Naqvi said the timing of the video was suspicious. “Sonia Gandhi meets Bukhari, he supports her the next day, and then we have a Congress-sponsored sting. Congress is adding communalism to its sin of corruption.”
Read: 'Cobrapost' sting on Babri issue has no evidentiary value: CBI
Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad termed Cobrapost “Congresspost”. Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said the sting operation had exposed the BJP’s involvement in the mosque demolition. “It was a planned conspiracy. Senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Uma Bharti knew about it,” he said. “BJP is a party full of liars and Modi is the biggest liar of all.” The sting involves prominent BJP leaders like Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Kalyan Singh. Cobrapost claimed the Bajrang Dal conducted a “month-long military style training”; “chisels, heavy-duty hammers, pickaxes, spades and grappling hooks and sturdy ropes” were supplied to RSS workers. Shiv Sena too, separately, conducted secret training in Madhya Pradesh and had a Plan B to “dynamite the mosque”.
It claims that then chief minister Kalyan Singh knew what was about to happen on December 6, but was told by BJP leaders not to resign till the mosque was demolished. Leaders of the movement, according to Cobrapost, have also “acknowledged the supportive role” of then PM PV Narasimha Rao.
Video: BJP asks EC to stop broadcast of Cobrapost sting