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The Rediff Interview/Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Imam, Jama Masjid
'We were being taken for a pathetic ride so far'
August 09, 2006
In the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh assembly election, things are hotting up in the state, which sends 81 members to the Lok Sabha. Twenty-two different Muslim organisations have formed a political conglomerate, the UP United Democratic Front, under the patronage of the Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari.
Considered a major political development, the Front is expected to have far-reaching consequences on UP's electoral future.
Bukhari, in an exclusive two-part interview to Jabir Musthari, discussed the circumstances that led to the formation of the Front and its objectives. He also shared some of the concerns and challenges faced by the Muslim community, especially after the 7/11 bomb blasts in Mumbai.
What brought about the formation of a Muslim Front in UP?
All was not well with the community in the state. We were being taken for a pathetic ride so far. Everybody used us for votes and failed us at crucial times.
Till now, we were making others -- who did nothing for the emancipation of the community -- win. Now we don't want to be fooled any more. After being cheated for a long while, we also want to win at least.
The concerted efforts of a united front of various Muslim organisations, we thought, would be able to do something in this direction.
Muslims are already moving away from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. And Bahujan Samajwadi Party leader Mayawati has already declared her party's candidates. Without a tie-up with either of the major parties in UP, how do you see the prospects for your Front?
Look, we cannot yet say that the chance for an alliance between the Front and the BSP is closed. Rather, we believe otherwise.
In fact, we are ready for an alliance with any political outfit other than the Samajwadi Party or Bharatiya Janata Party. We are convinced that the BSP is the ideal party to cooperate with given the sound credentials and its commitments to the people it represents.
UPUDF Chairman C M Ibrahim is already having talks with different parties. But I can tell you one thing: Our doors for the BSP will always be kept open.
Why is the BSP so ideal?
(BSP founder) Kanshi Ram and Mayawati has shown the world that the upliftment of the Dalits and downtrodden is possible through genuine and willful efforts. Their credentials are impressive. The BSP is the only party in UP which can claim a vote-bank guarantee.
Today even those parties, which claim more than 100 years heritage and history, are running behind them. No political party in India has been so committed as the BSP to the interest of the people it represents. That makes BSP the ideal party. We would love to work together to throw out Mulayam from power.
How did Mulayam became the anti-hero suddenly?
He won because of the Muslim vote. But he failed the community completely. In UP, Muslims comprise 20 per cent of the population. Yadavs are only 7 per cent. He is only concerned about his community. He offered education and jobs for downtrodden Muslims. But it was all words.
There are not even one percent Muslims in the UP police. Almost the same is the condition in other sectors too.
Making matters worse, he was always flirting with the BJP, overtly and covertly. He even helped some hardcore BJP (candidates) win in the last Lok Sabha election.
He has no regard for a community with whose help he is in power.
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