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With less than a month to go for voting for Delhi election, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal has landed himself in a controversy owing to his visit to Bareilly cleric Tauqeer Raza Khan soliciting support for the party.
Kejriwal’s visit raised question on his party’s credibility – vis-à-vis putting ‘safety of women’ as an important issue on its agenda – especially when it turned out this was the same cleric, who had allegedly issued a fatwa against Bagladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.
What was intended as an innocuous visit to seek blessings at the revered Dargah Aala Hazarat at Bareilly has now turned a thorn in the flesh for Kejriwal and party. After several of his supporters insisted, Kejriwal had visited the dargah. Once the rituals were over, he met the cleric Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan and sought support for AAP. The Maulana reportedly agreed.
Late in the evening, Kejriwal defended claiming he was not aware of the fatwa issue before he went to meet the cleric. “I also spoke to him (the Maulana) today, who said he had not issued any fatwa as only a Mufti can issue such a fatwa,” he said.
“Moreover, we are not entering into any electoral alliance with him, so no question of severing any contacts,” AAP said in response to question whether the party will now call Maulana Tauqeer for addressing rallies.
Kejriwal said there was nothing ‘communal’ about the visit as he has been meeting heads of different religious groups.
In 2007, a bench of Allahabad High Court had asked the Uttar Pradesh government about action it had taken against Tauqeer Raza Khan for his alleged fatwa against Nasreen.
Since Monday evening and through the day on Tuesday, Twitter world was abuzz with questions to and reactions on Kejriwal seeking support of the Maulana.