In a statement that could potentially turn controversial, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh has said that he considers Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, a “communal person”.
“I do not consider him a secular person. I believe Imam Bukhari is a communal person,” Singh said.
It is not the first time that Digvijay has called a “communal person”. In 2012, the Congress leader had hit out at Bukhari for issuing an appeal urging Muslims of Uttar Pradesh to vote for Samajwadi Party candidates.
“Bukhari was a communal person who at one time supported Osama Bin Laden and in 2004 issued a fatwa in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party,” he had said, adding, ““Bukhari’s worth can be estimated from the fact that his opponent has won from the area he lives in. Muslims of UP will not get misled by his appeal.”
However, Digvijay’s reassertion of the “communal” nature of Imam Bukhari is significant as it comes a day after Congress leader Maulana Asrarul Haque criticised Sonia Gandhi’s pre-poll meeting with the Shahi Imam.
Haque, who is a two-time MP from Bihar and All-India Muslim Personal Law Board member, said the meeting should not have happened. It was wrong on part of the Congress party to issue a appeal to one community, he said in an interview to a The Economic Times.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had met Shahi Imam and a delegation of Muslim leaders – on April 2 – and reportedly requested them to ensure that secular votes did not split in the Lok Sabha polls.
Later, Bukhari announced his support for the Congress and the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.
In the 80s, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had sought similar support from Bukhari’s father Syed Abdullah Bukhari, who was a staunch Congress supporter.
The BJP had strongly criticised Sonia for what it called as communal politics, however, she had rejected the charge and called it “absolutely a joke”.