No political party is untouchable, says Muslim cleric

July 4th, 2008 - 9:02 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party

Lucknow, July 4 (IANS) Declaring that no political party is untouchable, an influential Muslim cleric of Uttar Pradesh says the community is inclined to back Chief Minister Mayawati as she has expressed “genuine intention” to work for the development of minorities. “After years of experience of several parties, we realise we should go with a party which would do something concrete for the Muslims,” Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Maheli told IANS in an interview here.

Rashid is the Naib Imam of Aishbagh Idgah and a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

Asked why the Muslim clergy felt comfortable with Mayawati although she has shared power with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) thrice in the past, he said: “We have been disillusioned earlier (with other parties), let’s see if this happens with this party.”

Rashid said he was siding with Mayawati because of her assertions that the India-US nuclear deal would hurt Muslim sentiments.

He referred to Mayawati’s “clear assertion on the issue”, which the cleric said “reflects differently on her genuine intention to work for the development of minorities”.

Rashid also insisted that no political party could be considered untouchable for Muslims, the country’s largest minority with a population of 140 million.

“India has seen 10,000 communal riots in the last 60 years, and many occurred in Uttar Pradesh when neither the BSP (Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party) nor the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) was in power.”

The Sunni cleric was part of a delegation comprising Sunnis and Shias that met Mayawati Wednesday to appreciate her opposition to the nuclear deal.

“No political party is now untouchable, and we have realised this,” Rashid said.

He went on: “After all the promises by parties, Muslims are still backward on the development graph.”

Mayawati, he said, appeared a “committed” person and “we wish to believe her at this point”.

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