Bukhari ties severed, Mulayam cozies up to Bareilly maulana

Mulayam Singh Yadav

With his bonhomie with Imam Syed Ahmad Bukhari of Delhi's Jama Masjid coming to an end, Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav is now wooing another Muslim leader, Maulana Tauqeer Raza of Bareilly, for support in the Lok Sabha elections.

Already two rounds of talks have been held between Raza and Mulayam.

Raza had floated his own outfit, Ittehad-e-Millat Council (IMC), before Assembly elections and has a lone MLA Shahzil Islam from Bhojipura in Bareilly. He did not emerge as a game-changer but was certainly a spoilsport with the SP losing out on Muslim-dominated seats in Bareilly.

Raza draws his support mostly from Barelvi sect of Muslims and belongs to the illustrious religious family that heads this sect.

Realising his importance, Mulayam has started doling out favours to him. He already has given ticket from Bareilly Lok Sabha seat to Ayesha Islam, who is the wife of Shahzil Islam. Also, Abid Khan has been appointed as Chairman, National Integration Council with minister of state status. Abid is personal secretary of Subhani Miyan, the successor of Barelvi sect and brother of Raza.

"It is true that I had met Mulayam Singh twice and even Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav once. The agenda of the meeting was that they wanted me to support their party in the Lok Sabha elections," Raza told The Sunday Express.

However, Raza claimed that during these two meetings, he turned down Mulayam's request of merging his IMC with the SP. "I had stated in clear terms, we cannot merge but in politics there is always a chance of adjustment," he said. He claimed that offer is still valid and soon another meeting with Mulayam will be held. "I am being approached by Mulayam's close aides for meeting him. Another meeting is likely very soon," he said.

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