Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday made a strong appeal to minorities ahead of general election, pitching to help nurture the cause of secularism and met Muslim delegation led by Delhi's Jama Masjid Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari
The meeting with Bukhari was the first direct one between the hereditary cleric of one of Delhi's important mosques and the party in 30 years. 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.
Meanhwile criticizing Sonia's move, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh said that Congress was practicing communal politics.
"There is nothing wrong with asking someone for support, but Congress is one such party of the nation that has done communal politics as well as done the politics of dividing people, which is called as divisive politics. Congress has done it very well," he said.
Former Uttar Pradesh Minister Shahid Siddiqui criticized Bukhari saying that he was an opportunist and was not bothered for the welfare of Muslim community.
"For the past 20 years, Imaam sir (Syed Ahmed Bukhari) used to speak ill of Congress. He used to say that Congress is responsible for all the problems of the Muslim community and is worse than the BJP. Congress is the other face of the BJP. And now he is all ready to shake hands with that very Congress, this is a very peculiar matter. This means that he is not concerned with the welfare of the Muslims, he is only concerned with who is giving him support," he said.
Taking a jibe at Gandhi, Muslim cleric Maulana Khalid Rashid said it would have been in the good taste if such meetings were arranged by Congress in the past and not just ahead of general elections and take note of problems faced by the Muslim across the country.
"In the manner in which the Congress party has organized a minority conference and asked for their maximum votes, I think in a same manner if they would have organized the same conferences of the minorities of the Muslims every year while in power and would have listened about the problems and the demands of the Muslim community, then I think it would have been far better than organizing a conference only on the eve of the election," he said.