Mohsin Raza, a cricketer-turned-politician who is now the Muslim face in the Yogi government, was in HT office for a Facebook live session. Excerpts:
You say UP CM Yogi Adityanath could be the hero of Muslims in five years’ time. What makes you believe so?
Yes, I am sure. The manner in which he has begun, his desire to bring about a change in the lives of the common man is to be seen to be believed.
The BJP couldn’t find even one Muslim worthy of a party ticket is baffling. Isn’t it?
The BJP is like a family to us. Merely giving tickets to Muslims is no barometer of its success. So many parties gave tickets to Muslims. Has that helped the community? No. What have other parties done except giving us madarsas and tickets which have taken us nowhere. For the first time there is a party that is genuinely interested in the welfare of all, including Muslims. So far as tickets are concerned, we will field members of the community if they figure in the party’s survey.
Why isn’t the BJP government regularising and renewing licenses of legal slaughterhouses and meat shops?
The Yogi government’s stand has been clear from day one that all those operating legally won’t face any problems but illegal units won’t be allowed. We won’t act like the previous government that overlooked norms due to vote bank considerations.
Why is your government taking so long in regularising slaughterhouses?
Give us time. At the moment all I can say is that those adhering to norms won’t face any problems.
I hope you don’t want everyone to go vegetarian?
It would be nice if that happens because vegetarianism is good for health, it lowers cholesterol and has other benefits too.
Now does it mean that the government would play the doctor too?
(laughs) No, I am not saying that. I have already said those doing business legally won’t be harmed. Actually, the problem is the legacy of the previous government. Had it renewed licenses, things wouldn’t have gone bad. Do you know that licenses haven’t been regularised for years. So far as we are concerned, we won’t harass anyone.
What do you make of the killing of a Muslim man in a Bulandshahr village? A complaint was made against a Hindu outfit.
I think such incidents are a deliberate ploy to divert attention from the popularity of Modiji, Yogiji and the BJP. I won’t be surprised if it actually turns out to be a conspiracy to defame us.
But the kind of confidence-building that should have happened has not come about so far?
Ask Muslims outside India if they have ever felt or even heard of any insecurity in India? Modiji wants to bring Muslims to the national mainstream. Yogiji is talking of ensuring smart education for madarsa students too.
Aren’t Muslims protesting against the government’s interference in their personal law?
If someone feels that our push to end triple talaq is interference, so be it. Triple talaq, the way it has started being misused, has got nothing to do with Islam. So where is the question of interference?
Muslims are asking why is the government focusing on triple talaq alone and not talking about the problems that women face due to dowry demands.
That’s the point. We want everyone to believe in law and work under a constitutional set up.
Why do you say that the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board should be banned?
AIMPLB is neither Shariat nor Constitution. If a body tries to act on the behalf of Shariat, it should be banned. The CM, party and I myself have received many cases of Muslim women being harassed in the name of triple talaq. They want justice but how can we do so without invoking the law of the land?
What is your timeline for Ram Temple? Will Muslims ever accept the BJP’s view?
Temple would come up with consensus. Times are changing. Did you ever think that Modiji could be the country’s PM and Yogiji the state’s CM? Much has changed in the country.
You have been a cricketer too. How do you equate Yogi in sporting terms?
I think Sourav Ganguly set up the team that eventually went on to conquer the world under Mahendra Singh Dhoni after 27 years. Similarly, the first majority government came to power at the Centre under Modiji after 30 years. It eventually led to the BJP victory in UP and the rise of Yogiji.
Could Yogi be the team captain in future?
Modiji is doing a great job with Team BJP and Team India. At some point in time in future, I won’t be surprised if Yogiji heads to Delhi.
Are you indicating that Yogi could be a future Prime Minister?
I think the way Yogiji is emulating Modiji, there would be two ‘mahapurush’ (great men) in the coming years – one would be Modiji, the other Yogiji.
Give us your department’s vision for 100 days?
As the Haj minister I would ensure that excellent arrangements are made for pilgrims. You would see BJP workers greeting the elders as they embark on their pilgrimage. The biggest batch of Haj pilgrims would leave from UP this year.