The much-publicised "Muslim conference" being organised by Samajwadi Party General Secretary Beni Prasad Verma in Sultanpur on February 15 has run into rough weather.
While local SP unit has distanced itself from the function, Ulema (clerics) have given call for its boycott. Interestingly the Family Welfare Minister Ahmad Hasan, who visited Sultanpur on February 9, expressed his reservation about the conference and said that Muslims should not be misled by anybody.
Beni Verma, who is embroiled in a tussle with Labour Minister Dr Waqar Ahmad Shah, has called Muslim conference with the help of SP MP from Allahabad Atiq Ahmad. Verma said it was a non-political programme. However, SP District General Secretary Mohd Ahmad Khan told Hindustan Times over phone that resentment was brewing among Muslims against Beni Verma because of his diatribe against Dr Shah and his statement against reservation to the community as per recommendations of the Mandal commission. Beni Verma is opposed to reservation to the community. Khan said the local unit had not been consulted as the programme was being organised by former municipal committee chairman Manu Bhai.
The chairman minority cell Wakil Ahmad however counseled Beni Verma to cancel the programme in the larger interest of the party. Claiming that the community was against the programme, Wakil Ahmad said it would lead to further disenchantment against the party in the community. Minority cell general secretary Muzzamil said there was wide-spread opposition to the function in the community.
Since the Opposition had accused SP MP Atiq Ahmad of his alleged involvement in the rape of Muslim girls of Kareli Madrassa in Allahabad, Mohd Ahmad said it had further complicated the situation in Lucknow. Giving a religious colour, the local chief of Ulema-e-Hind Maulana Usman and Maulana Qasim have asked the people to stay away from the conference. Apart from Beni Verma and Atiq Ahmad, Madrassa board chairman Mohd Kamal Yusuf, Maulana Khalil and some other Muslim leaders are likely to attend the function. However they have failed to enlist local support. Wakil Ahmad said the conference would prove a flop show.
Email Masoodul Hasan: mhasan @hindustantimes.com