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Narendra Modi fails first step in Varanasi Lok Sabha elections tussle

Apr 21 2014, 16:32 IST
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SummaryThe family of late Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan has refused to become a proposer for Narendra Modi when he files nomination for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat on April 24.

The family of late Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan has refused to become a proposer for Narendra Modi when he files nomination for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat on April 24.

Bismillah's grandson Affaq Haider said they do not want to be associated with any political party on this 'hot seat'.

Varanasi will go to poll on May 12 with Narendra Modi, Congress candidate Ajay Rai and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal in the fray.

"We got a phone call from BJP Mayor Ramgopal Mohale on April 16 who expressed his desire to meet us. My father ustaad Zamin Hussain, and our family fried Shakeel Ahmed went to meet him at his residence.

"We thought that he wanted to arrange some cultural programme but he told us that Modiji has sent some people from Gujarat especially to meet us as he wants Zamin to be his proposer along with the grandson of Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya," Haider said.

"We told him that we will take a decision after consulting family members. He then gave us a day's time. We politely told him that we cannot be Narendra Modiji's proposer as neither Bismillah was involved with any political party nor do we wish to. Bismillah used to say that you can talk to me for hours about music but keep me away from politics," he said.

When contacted, the Varanasi Mayor said he shares a warm relationship with the Shehnai maestro's family but denied that he had approached the family members for standing as Narendra Modi's supporter.

However, he added that the Ustad's family often visits his house as they share a cordial relationship.

Haider said he and his father never refuse any invitation for a cultural programme for any political party including BJP but won't let Bismillah's name being dragged in politics.

"Political parties remember the Ustad only during elections and after that no one bothers about him. You can see that after eight years of his death his mausoleum is yet to be built despite tall promises," he rued.

When asked if Narendra Modi or Kejriwal have ever met them, he replied in the negative.

"No, not yet but we have heard that Narendra Modi plans to meet our family and visit Bismillah's mazar on 24th, the day he is filing nomination. As far as Kejriwal is concerned, he has mentioned Bismillah's name in his speeches but has not met us till now," he said.

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