A day after the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari urged Muslims to vote for the Congress, his brother Yahya Bukhari said he would not plead for any particular party.
Yahya, who is president of the Jama Masjid United Forum, said: “I won’t ask people to vote for any particular party. Muslims are aware nowadays. They can take their own decisions and do not need to be told whom to vote for. I won’t bat for any particular party.”
He said the days when a religious leader’s call could influence a huge number of people were over. “That era when a Muslim leader, like my father, had a huge say is long gone. Those days are over when a single leader — be it a Muslim or Hindu — could appeal, and his appeal would transform into votes,” Yahya said.
When asked about the possible alternative, he said new people should be given an opportunity. “What is the problem in giving someone new a chance? The Aam Aadmi Party is better than the Congress and the BJP. There is no other option in Delhi,” the Muslim leader said.
However, Yahya clarified that the party was not a plausible option outside the city. “The AAP can benefit people only in Delhi but not outside. In other places, people can choose whoever they feel will bring development, jobs and security, instead of empty promises,” he said, adding that he was surprised that the Shahi Imam had met Congress president Sonia Gandhi behind closed doors.
“Why didn’t they do a joint press conference? This appeal from the Imam is the result of a deal. Within a week, I will disclose all the details. Three Congress leaders, a Muslim and two Hindus, are involved in it,” Yahya alleged.
According to clerics, the Shahi Imam has some influence in a few areas of Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh, some areas of Moradabad and some segments of Saharanpur. They say Yahya has no influence of any significance.
HT had on Friday reported that Mufti M Mukarram Ahmed, the influential Imam of Masjid Fatehpuri, in his speech after the Friday prayers appealed to ‘Hindustani voters’ to “choose a candidate who would solve the area’s problems”, be it from any party or even an independent candidate.
“I am a religious leader so I have not taken any name. Each area has different issues and it is not necessary that a single party can provide all the solutions. So it can be different party candidates in different areas,” the Imam of Masjid Fatehpuri had said. Of the seven Parliamentary seats in the city, at least three constituencies - Northeast, East and Chandni Chowk - have a sizeable population of Muslims.
The Bukhari ancestry is traced directly to Prophet Muhammad.