Published On:18 April 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Azam-Bukhari row: Mulayam Singh Yadav struggles to cut Azam Khan to size, prop up Imam Bukhari as new Muslim leader

By Mohammad Shahid Parvez

Lucknow: With the Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav accepting almost all the demands of Shahi Imam Maulana Ahmad Bukhari the spat between the Imam of Jama Masjid Ahmad Bukhari and the state Urban Development Minister Azam Khan has ended at least for the time being. Mulayam’s shrewd move giving prominence to the imam over his old time colleague and senior party leader Azam Khan shows that the party chief has not forgiven his senior colleague for creating trouble for the party leadership by his regular tantrums and wants to cut him to size. By propping up the Imam as the new Muslim leader, the Samajwadi Party chief has given the message to Azam to remain in his limit.

But whatever the political compulsions of the Samajwadi Party leaders, the episode has done no good to either the Muslim community or the party itself. The people saw with amusement the two Muslim leaders indulging in mudslinging at each other and both claiming to be the real representatives of the community fighting for its cause. The matter was made worse when groups of ulema took sides, one supporting Bukhari and the other issuing fatwa against the imam. Azam Khan who is opposed to religious persons indulging in politics has never been on good terms with Bukhari and had initially opposed an Assembly ticket to the imam’s son in-law Umar Ali and later his nomination to the UP Council after his defeat in Assembly poll. But the real trouble began when Bukhari rejected the offer allegedly demanding a council seat and ministerial berth for Umar and a Rajya Sabha ticket for his brother Yahya Bukhari in the name of proportional representation to Muslims. This irked Azam Khan, who accused the imam of serving his vested interest in the grab of Muslim representation. Allegations and counter allegations followed tarnishing the image of the community.

It is worth mentioning here that Samajwadi Party befriended Bukhari to garner Muslim votes after Azam Khan left the party in the wake of Kalyan episode. But when he returned to the party after Amar Singh's ignominous exit, Azam Khan, who never allowed a rival to his Muslim leadership within the party, saw a threat to his monopoly in Mulayam’s nearness to Bukhari and opposed it. But the Rampur MLA was stunned to see the party chief maintaining a studied silence throughout his wordy duel with the imam and was forced to call truce. Expressing surprise and unhappiness over the attitude of the party leadership on the issue a mellowed Azam Khan said, "I expected the Samajwadi Party government and senior party leaders to stand by me."

There may be other reasons for Azam Khan to oppose the rise of Bukhari in the party but there is no denying the fact that the way the latter has bargained with Mulayam a council seat for his son-in-law in the name of the community is unbecoming for a religious leader like him. How the entry of Umar, who has been rejected by electorate in a Muslim dominated constituency in Assembly polls, into the council or UP ministry serve the community? What is Umar’s experience in politics or contribution to the betterment of Muslim community that he deserves what Bukhari has bargained for him? Did not the imam found a more deserving person from among Muslims in Uttar Pradesh than his son-in-law to serve the community? The Samajwadi Party leadership and the government, no doubt are striving to fulfill the promises made in the manifesto but it should know that promoting a family or clan however so high in status in a hope to expand its base will not endear it to Muslims. Elevating a defeated candidate having no political standing to council or cabinet may be correct constitutionally, but ethically it is wrong and amounts to injustice and backstabbing the Muslim community on whose shoulders it catapulted to power in a massive way.

It is wrong to say that ulema and imams should not venture into politics and remain confined to their madarsas and masjids. On the other hand, it is imperative that our religious leaders join public life and set example of probity in public life, justice and peace to promote not only the interests of Muslims but the entire humanity. For this, however, they will have to practice what they preach – the true spirit of Islam. However, if they fear that they would not be able to resist the temptation of power and wealth and end up promoting the interest of their kith and kin at the cost of ummah, then seclusion would be better for them.

The current episode is a sad commentary on the state of Muslim leadership not only in Uttar Pradesh, but at national and international level also. It is an irony that all Muslim leaders swear to work with the single aim – progress and prosperity of the community – but are not ready to see eye to eye with each other. The Muslim leaders should realize that the habit of infighting and mudslinging at each other for their vested interests and egos only make them and their community a laughing stock for others who often take advantage of their differences. These leaders should know that one does not become leader of a community only by claiming so unless the community on its own accepts him or her as its leader. Leaders are made by virtue of deeds not rhetoric. The community today is in dire need of a unified, honest and selfless leadership that can lift it from the backwardness and darkness of ignorance that it groping in. And, to achieve this goal Muslim leaders will have to rise above their vested interests.

[Mohammad Shahid Parvez is former News Editor, National Herald, Lucknow. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Uttar Pradesh). He can be contacted at mshahidparvez@gmail.com]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on April 18, 2012. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on April 18, 2012. Filed under , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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