Shahi Imam Makes Pro-AAP Appeal, Party Rejects 'Unsolicited' Support

Published: 07th February 2015 12:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th February 2015 12:32 AM   |  A+A-


NEW DELHI: On the eve of Delhi assembly polls, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari Friday appealed to Muslims to vote for the AAP but the party rejected his "unsolicited" support and questioned its timing.

Even as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) snubbed Bukhari's offer, accusing him of practising communal politics, the BJP hit out at its rival, accusing the Arvind Kejriwal-led party of polarising Delhi on communal lines and claiming the appeal "was issued on request of AAP leaders".

Bukhari said: "The AAP seems to be in a position to form the government and we must give them strength and help in forming a secular government in Delhi." 

However, the AAP rejected his support. 

"Today, on the eve of Delhi polls, a man who represents regressive and the worst side of politics came out and gave support to the AAP," AAP leader Ashish Khetan told the media. 

"We not only reject the offer made by Ahmed Bukhari but we also want to make it clear that the AAP is here to fight communal politics that Bukhari represents," he added.

Khetan said Bukhari's past utterances symbolised communalism. 

In a statement later, the AAP said: "All attempts by such elements which seem to be propped up by the BJP want to vitiate the communal atmosphere in Delhi."

Reacting to Bukhari's remark, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shahnawaz Hussain attacked the AAP saying it was trying to "divide" Delhi communally, while his party colleague Nirmala Sitharman claimed that the appeal had been made on request of AAP leaders "including Alka Lamba" and this "had been confirmed by Imam himself".

She also accused AAP of adopting "every dirty trick" to capture power in Delhi, saying that the party lecturing from "self made moral high ground stands completely exposed".

In a statement, Sitharaman said that AAP has emerged as a party "which unashamedly adopts every dirty trick to capture power", alleging it "exploit the links with anti-national forces, use cash and liquor to gain votes and are now trying to polarize the voters by seeking the fatwa in their support. AAP's desperation is out in the open".

She also alleged that AAP has given tickets to people associated with anti-national forces, claiming its candidate from Okhla Amanatullah Khan "has openly supported Zia-ur-Rehman, an accused in Delhi and Ahmedabad bomb blasts".

It has been a trait of AAP's politics, perhaps a cultivated habit, to seek, receive and then to pretentiously reject," she said, citing its acceptance of support from Congress after the December 2013 elections and allegations of getting some funds from shell companies.

She said AAP "pretentiously has decided to reject" the offer of support by Bukhari.

Delhi goes to the polls Saturday to elect a 70-member assembly. The votes will be counted Feb 10.

Muslims account for over 11 percent of Delhi's nearly 17 million population. 

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, Bukhari called upon Muslims to vote for the Congress.Imam's younger brother Yahya Bukhari said the chief cleric had never stuck to any particular party in the past. "He keeps vacillating which is not good for the nation as well as for the community," he told a TV news channel.

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