Published On:23 February 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

PEOPLE: BJP’s Muslim face wears many hats: member of Haj panels, sexologist

By Ashutosh Bhardwaj

Raipur: The board outside a small clinic in old Raipur — Dr Raj Health Hospital, gupt rogon ka safal ilaj (successful treatment of sex diseases) — does not indicate the political influence this doctor of Unani medicine wields, with his proximity to top BJP leaders including Chief Minister Raman Singh.

Dr Saleem Raj, a sexologist in his early forties who holds major posts in Haj committees, is also known for his extreme right wing views. He introduced kesariya (saffron) burqa for Haj pilgrims and publicly honoured RSS leader Indresh Kumar despite the latter’s alleged links to several terror attacks.

Dr. Saleem Raj
Raj’s ascent began in 2006, when Raman Singh appointed him as a member of the Chhattisgarh Haj Committee,and was immediately made its chairperson. He was re-elected chairperson in 2009 and got Minister of State status. Soon, he became the BJP’s Muslim face in Chhattisgarh.

Raj was also probably the youngest member of the Central Haj Committee, under the Ministry of External Affairs, as well as vice-chairperson of the Haj Arrangement Committee of India.

Asked if he faced opposition from community members on his profession as a sexologist, Raj replies, “Kaisa virodh? Mere karan kai parivar barbaad hone se bach gaye (What protest? Many families were saved from breaking up because of me),” before asking for a change of topic.

While he may not be comfortable talking about his profession, he is reported to have a considerable client base. The clinic is around 50 years old, part of a family tradition. Before Raj took charge in the 1990s, his father was the most prominent sexologist in the city.
Soon after occupying the Haj Committee post, Raj’s became increasingly right wing. A UP-based Muslim organisation even issued a fatwa against him for supporting Vande Mataram in 2006, he informs proudly.

“I tell all Muslims that our ancestors were Hindus. I introduced saffron gamcha and burqa for Haj pilgrims. Today, Haj pilgrims from Chhattisgarh can be distinctively identified in the entire crowd,” he says.
“We organised a function in Raipur last year and felicitated Indresh Kumar to prove that Muslims are with him,” he adds. “Our main task is to bring the Sangh Parivar and Muslim community together,” he says.

In January, a controversy erupted following his resignation from the chairmanship of the Haj committee even as his term was to end in March. His opponents claimed he was forced to resign as Singh was annoyed with him. But some said it was a shrewd strategy as, according to Haj committee rules, nobody can be its president for more than two consecutive terms. Hence, this “break for two months”.

But Raj denies all this. “I have cordial relations with the CM. He only brought me here. It is customary to resign before the term ends. In 2009 also, I resigned only to be re-appointed. I now await the third term,” he says.

(Courtesy: The Indian Express)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on February 23, 2012. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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