Two key Muslim figures on Monday asserted their political neutrality, in the face of questions whether voters from the community will move away from the Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh over its support to the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement.
Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, the Naib (deputy) Imam of Lucknow’s Aishbagh Idgah, and All India Muslim Personal Law Board vice-chairman Maulana Kalbe Sadiq said separately that they had not yet committed their support to the SP’s arch rival, Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Both were part of a delegation of Muslim community leaders that met Uttar Pradesh chief minister and BSP leader Mayawati.
The meeting raised speculation that the Muslim community may be moving against the SP, which has decided to back the Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on the Indo-US nuclear deal.
“We were and will remain apolitical,” Sadiq said on the phone.
“We are not aligned with any political party,” added Mahali. “We are opposed to the deal because it is not in national interest and this is not just a Muslim-centric view.” He did claim that Muslims in the state were angry with the SP for backing the Congress on the nuclear deal. The SP has justified support for the nuclear deal on grounds that its chief enemy was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition group, which it calls a communal force.
Sadiq said the BJP and its leader L.K. Advani “were as much a threat to the Muslim community as was (US President) George W. Bush.”