Barring the BJP, major political parties including Congress and the CPI(M) reacted with shock over the Allahabad High Court judgement holding that Muslims in Uttar Pradesh cease to be minorities.
Similarly, excepting Jamat-e-ulema-al Hind leader Mahmood Madani who said Muslims are not in a minority in the country and should be treated as majority, most Muslim religious leaders said they would challenge it in the Supreme Court.
The AICC was not convinced by the High Court judgement. “What is the basis of the judgement, which appears mysterious and unconvincing. The Constitution recognises linguistic and religious minorities. Given this, we have no doubt sufficient grounds of challenge are available to assail this judgement,’’ said Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi.
He said there is no statute or constitutional rule disqualifying an entire community from being a minority if they are 18 per cent of the population or so.
CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat said the party was 'totally opposed' to the High Court order, while its ally CPI declined immediate comments saying it would give its considered response after studying the court order.
Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan demanded the matter be referred to a larger bench.
As expected, the BJP welcomed the court ruling, saying it was an indictment of the UPA government's "minority appeasement for sheer vote-bank politics." BJP deputy leader VK Malhotra said, "It is a welcome judgement, an overdue one."
Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmad Shah Bukhari said, "We will approach the apex court challenging the Allahabad High Court decision that denies minority status to Muslims in Uttar Pradesh."
Stating that the court's decision would send a negative message among the Muslim community, he said, "The cleric heads of all major Muslim organisations will sit together to take an unanimous decision in the matter."
Describing it as an "unfortunate" verdict, the Imam of Fatehpuri mosque Mufti Mohammed Mukaram said, "Muslims are in a minority in the country and they should get all the benefits of their minority status."
Mukaram questioned the criteria for the data relied upon the Allahabad high court. "The census of 2001 was incomplete and at that time itself we had raised objections about its credibility. We want the government to order a fresh census to decide about the minority status of Muslims," he added.
But Jamat-e-ulema-al Hind leader Mahmood Madani said "We are the second largest majority in India and we ourselves are against minority status for Muslims. But, then we should get equal rights, facilities and opportunities being enjoyed by non-minority communities," said Madani.
Madani said he did not foresee any polarisation of votes in the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections saying it was not a political matter but a decision by a court.