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'I did not label Muslims as fanatics'

Barely eight hours after her remark ignited a storm, Mayawati denies having called Muslims 'fanatics'.

india Updated: Nov 11, 2006 16:10 IST

Barely eight hours after her remark ignited a storm, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati has denied calling "all Muslims as fanatics".

It was only after TV news channels started showing loud protests against her utterances made on Friday in Lucknow that Mayawati realised her folly and called a press conference late at night.

She had been earlier reported as saying that "Muslim voters general tilt towards fanatics".

What made matters worse was her added remark: "That is why I told BSP voters to even vote for BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) since we were not contesting (the recently concluded) civic elections in the state."

The remarks led to loud protests in Meerut, where Muslims took to the streets and burnt effigies of Mayawati.

She had cited Meerut among the places where Muslims chose to vote for "fanatics".

In a much-delayed damage control exercise, a visibly jittery Mayawati pleaded before the media that she had been misunderstood.

She chose to read out a prepared release that said: "Some TV channels have been projecting that I have referred to Muslims in general as fanatics but that is not true."

About transferring her party's votes to BJP, she sought to clarify: "All I said was that I asked my party supporters to vote for the strongest candidate against the wife of minister Haji Yaqoob Quraishi because he was trying to vitiate the atmosphere by fuelling fanaticism."

She added: "In the Lucknow Mayor's poll we transferred our BSP vote to the Muslim nominee of the Congress because the independent whom we had extended support got sold to Mulayam (Singh Yadav) and we were determined to ensure the defeat of the Samajwadi Party. I have always considered Muslims as a part of Bahujan Samaj."

First Published: Nov 11, 2006 16:07 IST