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I never called Muslims fundamentalists

india Updated: Nov 11, 2006 01:32 IST

BSP NATIONAL president Mayawati held two press conferences on Friday.

In the first, called at 1 pm, she talked about her party’s tactical support to the BJP and the Congress in the recent local bodies’ poll and how it spoilt the plans of ‘fundamentalist’ Haji Yaqoob Qureshi in Meerut. The second press conference was held late in the night after some electronic channels started airing the protest launched by the supporters of Qureshi against her ‘remarks on the Muslims’.

While explaining her strategy to media in the first meeting, she had said that in Meerut the contest between BJP candidate Madhu and UDF candidate Sanjida, wife of Minister of State for Minority Welfare Haji Yaqub Qureshi, had turned virtually into a Hindu and Muslim tussle. “Haji had deserted the BSP and was following a fundamentalist agenda. Generally Muslims have a liking for such fundamentalist figures. On the other hand, the candidate supported by the BSP had no such leanings. It was only to ensure the defeat of the fundamentalist candidate (Qureshi’s wife), the BSP decided to transfer its votes to the BJP,” she said.

A few hour after her remarks, the supporters of Qureshi were on the streets in Meerut. They burnt Mayawati’s effigy and blocked roads. They alleged that Mayawati had called the Muslims fundamentalists.

Fearing that the ruling Samajwadi Party might try to exploit the issue to damage the BSP in the coming Vidhan Sabha election, the BSP leaders soon called an emergency meeting. They discussed the issue and were of the view that Mayawati should give a clarification on her earlier statement.

At 10 pm, Mayawati called the second press conference. She told the media persons that they had failed to understand her earlier statement. “Some channels have shown that I have called the Muslims fundamentalists. Such twist to my statement is wrong,” she said.

“Along with Islam, all religions have highlighted the spirit of brotherhood and harmony. No religion permits to sow the seed of discord in the society. Every one knows that Haji Yaqub Qureshi had always tried to cash in on hate. Even Muslims scholars have opposed the misdemeanor of the Haji. It was to ensure the defeat of the fundamentalist ideology, I got the vote of my party transferred to the party that was in a position to defeat Haji’s wife,” Mayawati said.

“In Lucknow the party adopted a separate strategy. Here the BSP transferred its vote to the Congress candidate to ensure defeat of the SP candidatem,” she said.

“Muslims are part of the Bahujan Samaj and I have never called Muslims fundamentalists,” she said.