On the eve of Delhi polls, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari today appealed to the Muslims to vote for AAP but the party promptly rejected the offer which led to a slugfest between the Arvind Kejriwal-led party and the BJP.
In his appeal, Bukhari urged Muslims to help AAP to form an “honest and secular” government, citing “grave threat” to the community from communal forces but AAP said it does not need his support as it was against any kind of caste and communal politics.
A clash also broke on micro-blogging site Twitter with hashtag #BJPBukhariNexus
In an apparent indication to BJP, a number of AAP leaders alleged that certain forces have been trying to “polarise” people ahead of the elections and that the rival party could be behind the offer.
“A man who represents regressive politics, communal side of politics comes out and offers support to a party which is fighting its elections for common man and is setting new benchmark in politics. This is a blatant attempt to polarise the polls,” AAP leader Ashish Khaitan said.
Attacking AAP for “seeking” the support and then rejecting it, BJP accused the party of doing communal politics and said it stood exposed for attempting to polarise votes ahead of Delhi elections.
“Aam Aadmi Party stands exposed for doing communal politics. They are completely rattled and that is why they are attempting to polarise votes on communal lines,” Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
Syed Yahya Bukhari, President of Jama Masjid United Forum (JMUF) and younger brother of the Imam, questioned the decision and wondered why he extended support to different parties from time to time.
“I think the voters of Delhi should question him why he is supporting different parties from time to time? What is the reason behind that? What Shahi Imam said today, he could have said before,” Yahya said.
As AAP slammed Bukhari for making the appeal, Tariq Bukhari, General Secretary of Jama Masjid Advisory Council, said the decision was taken after due deliberations and considering the situation in the country.
Asked whether there were talks with AAP, he said, “Of course, until and unless we are convinced why should we support them.”
Earlier, in his appeal, the Shahi Imam said, “The country is facing grave dangers of communalism and Muslims are the target of communal forces.”
He said survival of Muslims was dependent on the survival of secularism in India while urging the people to help AAP to form an honest and secular government in Delhi.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh said, “AAP doesn’t support the ideology of Imam Bukhari. We don’t need his support.”
AAP leader Ashutosh said the party does not have any connection with Bukhari.
“He (Bukhari) did not invite India’s Prime Minister to his son’s anointment ceremony but called the Pakistan Prime Minister. You might be upset with the PM, you might be having differences with him but you have to respect that position. AAP is against communal politics. We reject his support as well as his politics,” Ashutosh said.
Bukhari had triggered a controversy in October last year by inviting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as well as political leaders in India but not Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the anointment ceremony of his son.