How can people trust the dealer, Mr. Bukhari?

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Shahi Imam of Delhi Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari once again shifted his loyalties towards Congress and Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress. “Muslims should support the TMC in Bengal. The TMC’s role will be very important in the formation of the government in Delhi. Mamata Banerjee will never be a part of the NDA. Keeping this in mind, we support the TMC,” he announced in whole packed press Conference. This is not the first time; this guy has shifted his loyalties. His father Abdulla Bukhari also always changed his decision. However, today’s educated Muslims will not follow his instructions.

Yes, most of the Muslims support Congress Party and they will support the oldest party of this country. It is not that if Bukhari will tell then only they will cast their votes to one party.
Today, who listens to Bukhari? Nobody!

I’m not talking in the air. Here are some data in support of my statements. Imam Bukhari had flummoxed the Muslim community by endorsing BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the 2004 election. At the time, the Congress won 36 per cent of Muslim votes, and BJP could win only seven per cent, a sign that the Imam’s endorsement failed to influence the Muslim vote.

Five years later, the cleric backed the Congress in 2009, to almost identical results in polls.

Today he also said he would not support the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as both had let Muslims down.

Imam Bukhari’s meeting with Sonia Gandhi earlier this week was described by the BJP as an attempt by the Congress president to polarize the vote by religion.

Shahi Imam also hit out at the Samajwadi Party saying it has betrayed the Muslims.

However, the spanner that came from his younger brother, Syed Yahya Bukhari, the president of the Jama Masjid United Forum, who said that Congress too has committed atrocities and violence against Muslims. This statement openly revealed that rift exists within the Bukhari family itself.

Yahya Bukhari blasted out on the appeal by Sonia Gandhi to Syed. Yahya criticised his brother to have gone to the Congress president’s doorsteps offering promises to a party which has only betrayed the trust reposed by Muslims.

Yahya said that Syed’s decision to support Congress was highly objectionable.

Sonia Gandhi reportedly claimed in front of Syed Ahmed Bukhari that the primary reason for her entering into politics was to “safeguard and protect secularism”. Yahya Bukhari hit out at Sonia over these claims, by questioning whether secularism exists in the Congress.

Yahya Bukhari launched a counter-attack on Sonia Gandhi’s Congress saying that whatever happened Gujarat is condemnable but how can one forgive Congress, thinking they’re secular. Yahya said that the Congress party has engineered riots with killings of innocent Muslims and sexual violence over women in Bhagalpur, Maliana, Surat, Moradabad and several other places.

The serious (and not so-serious) claims and counter-claims made by Azam Khan, a senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and the so-called Shahi Imam of Delhi’s historic Jama Masjid, Ahmad Bukhari, on “Muslim representation” in post-election Uttar Pradesh can be interpreted in two possible ways. One may argue, in fact quite justifiably, that these polemical comments simply reflect the post-poll tussle between two rival Muslim elites to secure a wider acceptability in the SP dominated UP politics.

However, there could be another plausible approach to interpret this debate. We may problematise these statements to raise a few very significant issues such as: do Muslims actually vote for a particular party because they are “instructed” by religious elites such as the Imam to do so? Or, do Muslims vote for a party because they follow the “advice” given to them by elected Muslim representatives? If we go beyond these first level questions, we might also ask two larger conceptual questions: do Muslims need to be represented by Muslims? If yes, what could be the appropriate relationship between the acts of Muslim representatives and aspirations of Muslim communities?

The Bukhari-Khan controversy, in my view, can help us in unpacking these complicated questions. In the first week of April 2012, Bukhari, who had already campaigned for the SP in the UP Assembly elections, quite unexpectedly withdrew his son-in-law’s candidature for the UP Vidhan Parishad. In a much publicised open letter, he accused the SP leadership of not providing “adequate Muslim political representation” at various levels. He said: “The rights of Muslims cannot be satisfied by giving a seat to my son-in-law. If you do not give a fair share to Muslims in administration and power, I turn down the offer made for my son-in-law.” It means Bukhari has brokered a deal with Mulayam Singh Yadav against his support from Muslims community. How can people trust the dealer, who deals for his own interests sans community benefits?