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Deoband's ulemas turn away Amar Singh

By Renu Mittal
February 04, 2009 03:01 IST
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"First apologize publicly, throw out Kalyan Singh and his son from the Samajwadi Party and then come and meet us" said the Ullemas of Deoband, refusing to meet the Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh who had gone there on Monday to get feedback on the party's tie up with the former BJP chief minister.

For Amar Singh it was probably a journey which turned into a nightmare. The powerful Samajwadi Party leader who went to first to Kanpur and then to Deoband to gauge Muslim reaction to the newly found bonhomie between Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kalyan Singh, found himself surrounded by Muslims burning effigies of Kalyan Singh and raising slogans against the samajwadi party. Amar Singh was told in no uncertain terms that the decision to have a tie up with Kalyan Singh was simply not palatable to the Mulsim community.

From there, Amar Singh went to the Darul-Uloom Deoband, the powerful and high profile Islamic seminary which is the religious seat of the high priests of one of the Suni schools of Islam. It does not represent the opinion of the entire spectrum of Islamic thought and belief but in India it is one of the most prominent and highly respected.

The  Deoband Ulemas refused to meet Amar Singh. Instead he was told that Kalyan Singh's son should be thrown out of the SP, the party leaders should publicly apologize and then they would be only too pleased to meet him.  Slogans were also raised against the SP member of Parliament Rashid Masood who had welcomed Kalyan Singh's association with the Samajwadi Party.

Amar Singh's visit co-incided to the day long telecast by a television channel of old speeches made by Kalyan Singh where his anti-muslim bias was more than evident and he was extolling the crowds to kill 4 muslims for every hindu who is killed. Kalyan Singh was the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister when the Babri Masjid was demolished and his government was sacked by the Centre for failing to protect the Mosque.

The telecast also had repeated screenings of images where Amar Singh was touching Kalyan Singh's feet and welcoming him along with Mulayam Singh Yadav who has for long now been enjoying the support of the Muslims in Uttar Pradesh.

While Muslim leaders in the Samajwadi Party have been raising voices of concern at the decision to align so closely with Kalyan Singh and give a ticket to his son Rajveer Singh and questioning why their voice is not being heard by the leadership, the same concern is also evident within the Congress party which is working on cobbling together an alliance with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh.

Sources say that Sonia Gandhi is personally interested in the alliance as it would help the Congress in the post-poll scenario if the SP is already aligned with the Congress in terms of seat sharing. But the heat of Muslim anger appears to have reached 10, Janpath also.

On Monday night the Congress President met the chairpersons of the minorities departments in the pradesh congress committees through out the country at her residence. It is learnt that a large number of them conveyed to her that despite whatever Mulayam Singh Yadav may be saying, the bulk of the Muslims consider Kalyan Singh to be responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid and it is not something which they have either forgotten or forgiven.

The Muslim leaders of the Congress party also conveyed to her that any tie up with the SP may not go down too well with the Muslim community, particularly in north India. Especially if he continues his association with the former BJP CM.

A senior congress leader said that Kalyan Singh would continue to be an issue within the Congress party. He said that if an alliance takes place the Congress would then consider whether to have a joint campaign with the Samajwadi Party but certainly not on the same platform if Kalyan Singh is present there. Kalyan Singh who has recently quit the BJP has announced that he would be campaigning for Mulayan Singh Yadav and his party in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
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Renu Mittal