The Samajwadi Party cracked down on leader Mohammed Farooq Ghosi after he stoked a controversy on Saturday by demanding a Rajya Sabha nomination for the widow of Yakub Memon, executed for his role in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts.
The embarrassed party reacted swiftly, sacking Ghosi from the post of vice president of its unit in Maharashtra.
Ghosi raised his demand in a letter written to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh, two days after Memon was hanged in Nagpur Central Jail.
“As Yakub was convicted, he got the death penalty. However, his wife (Raheen) was acquitted by the court. She is innocent. So in order to send a positive signal to Muslims, I have requested Mulayamji to make her a Rajya Sabha MP," he said before he was suspended by the party.
Ghosi described Raheen as a “helpless” person who should be made the voice of weak and helpless people by the Samajwadi Party. He contended that Muslims were living in shadow of fear since the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre.
“Raheen was in jail for many years. How much she would have suffered...Today I find Raheen helpless and there are many such Muslims in the country who find themselves helpless and for whom we have to fight,” Ghosi said in his letter.
Senior Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi distanced the party from Ghosi’s remarks, saying an explanation will be sought from him.
“He (Ghosi) has not consulted the party before making irresponsible comments. He has written the letter in his personal capacity. He will be asked to explain his stand, following which necessary action will be taken against him," Azmi said.
Commenting on his removal from the party post, Ghosi said he accepted the decision. “If my party thinks my views are wrong, I fully accept it. However, I will meet our top leaders to convince them how important it is to send Raheenji to the Rajya Sabha.”
The Congress said the decision to hang Memon was endorsed by the Supreme Court and should not be politicised.
“This is their internal matter. But it seems more like their tacit agenda to communalise the issue. The decision to hang Memon was taken by the Supreme Court and the matter should not be politicised now,” said Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant.
BJP leader Madhav Bhandari said Ghosi's comments proved that the Samajwadi Party is only interested in playing vote-bank politics. He said the party should clarify its stand on the issue.
"Every person has the right to suggest something to his party. But every leader needs to show some constraint while making suggestions. Samajwadi Party has to clear its stand and if he is acting against the party line, then the party should take some serious action. This is sheer exploitation of vote bank politics," he said.