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Published in the 1-15 May 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Mulayam in soup

Mulayam Singh Yadav is neck deep in controversy since he took over as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. He is engulfed by controversies. The chief minister had declared Fridays as “holiday” so that Muslims would offer Jum’a prayer while Muslims never made such a demand. This step was taken by Mulayam to woo the minority community voters who play a deciding role in 34 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state. Surprisingly, Muslims themselves opposed such a holiday.

Mulayam Singh faces the ire of Muslim organizations and religious leaders. Members of the Shia community have even threatened to take to the streets if a party advertisement is not withdrawn quickly. They have condemned the advertisement. They called upon the chief minister to apologise to the Muslims forthwith for the blunder and for hurting their sentiments. A hue and cry was raised after the Samajwadi Party released an advertisement in Urdu dailies which said, “How can the members of the minority community who still cherish the 1400-year-old Karbala tragedy in their mind forget the sacrifices made by Mulayam Singh Yadav?” Muslims say that the sacrifices made by Hazrat Imam Hussain for Islam cannot be compared to any other sacrifice by anyone else.

Renowned Shia religious leader Kalbe Jawwad said that not only Muslims but even Hindus would not tolerate if anybody tried to compare the Karbala tragedy with some other deed. He said that this had hurt the sentiments of the lovers of Hazrat Imam Hussain. Mulyam Singh should apologise, the renowned religious leader said, adding that he would support any organisation which comes forward to stage demonstrations.

Spokesperson of the All-India Milli Council, Kamal Farooqui, condemned the advertisement while releasing a list of the candidates whom the council has decided to support in the elections contesting from different political parties in U.P. He said that religion should not be mixed with politics. The convenor of the All-India Babri Masjid Action Committee Zafaryab Jilani pointed out that the advertisement was highly objectionable. 

— Masood Hasan, Lucknow

See also Mulayam Singh’s Urdu paradoxes

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