Slamming Jama Masjid Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari over his call for ‘boycotting the Samajwadi Party’, party leader Abu Azmi on Friday dubbed the Imam a ‘blackmailer’, adding that he was taking undue advantage of his position.
"Shahi Imam is misusing the power of his position. He is a blackmailer. He is a sort of a person who negotiates with the ruling party, gets a position. He cannot get even one vote," Azmi told ANI.
Azmi further said that party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav had accorded a lot of respect to him but now the party does not want such Imams.
"Mulayam Singh ji gave him so much respect. He gave ticket to his son-in-law. The Samajwadi Party does not want such Imams now. It works on the strength of people and will work so in the future as well," he said.
Shahi Imam had on Thursday announced his backing for Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections and accused the SP of going back on its promises.
"Muslims should look for a political alternative in Uttar Pradesh and show exit route to this unjust Samajwadi Party that has gone back on its word. Otherwise, every political party will use Muslims like football for their own interests," the Shahi Imam cautioned, while declaring his support to BSP.
"Samajwadi Party had made promises but its performance is lamentable and it has been a cause of frustration for Muslims," he alleged, adding in the last five-years of SP rule, Muslims bore the brunt of deprivation, injustice and unemployment.
Muslims account for nearly 20 per cent of the electorate in Uttar Pradesh and can make or mar the electoral fortune of any party or its candidate in the high-stakes Assembly polls.
Bukhari claimed promises like reservation for Muslims, implementation of Ranganathan Commission recommendations and Sachchar Committee reports, establishment of government educational institutes in Muslim-dominated districts and setting up of Urdu medium schools were not fulfilled by the government.
Alleging that "from police stations to every government department, Yadavs were recruited, but Muslims were discriminated against", he said, "Statements of Mulayam Singh Yadav admitting that Akhilesh Yadav has not fulfilled the promises made to the Muslims is a proof of it."
Bukhari's announcement has come as a boost to BSP, that had yesterday got support of the Ulema Council which withdrew its 84 candidates in favour of Mayawati's party.