Family members of late shehnai maestro and Bharat Ratna awardee Ustad Bismillah Khan have rubbished reports of backing BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi.
Khan was looked up to as a community elder in his hometown Varanasi, from where Modi is contesting. An endorsement from his family would have helped Modi gain a degree of acceptance among the city’s Muslims.
Zamin Hussain Bismillah, Khan’s son, clarified that the family wanted to keep away from politics. “A report published in a local newspaper about a member of my family becoming Modi’s proposer is not correct,” he said.
According to the report, local BJP leaders had approached the shehnai maestro’s family with the request. Apart from the Ustad’s family, the party has in its search for individuals from various walks of life, decided to include a tea seller, a renowned classical singer of Kashi, a Shia Muslim and a member of the dom raj family as Modi’s proposers.
The dom raj family is in charge of Varanasi’s historic Manikarnika cremation ghat.
“The names of our candidate’s proposers will be finalised by tomorrow (Tuesday),” Nalin Kohli, BJP’s spokesperson, said. Modi will file his papers on April 24, the last date of the nomination process.
Local BJP leaders said several chaiwalas have forward their names to the BJP leadership to become Modi’s proposers. Varanasi-based classical singer Channulal Mishra and Allahabad-based retired judge Giridhar Malaviya have also given their consent in this regard.
“I have accepted the BJP leadership’s request,” said Mishra, a Padma Bhushan awardee and exponent of the Kirana Gharana of Indian classical music.
Malaviya, grandson of Banaras Hindu University founder Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, also confirmed his status as Modi’s proposer. Though a resident of Allahabad, he has completed the formality for inclusion of his name in the electoral rolls of Varanasi constituency. This is mandatory for a proposer under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Malaviya, though, dismissed rumours about his joining the BJP. “I am in no way involved in politics,” said the former Allahabad High Court judge.
Polling in Varanasi is scheduled in the last phase on May 12.