Team led by Muslim cleric to tour country to pitch Didi as PM face

A five-member team, led by Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid Syed Md Nurur Rahman Barkati, is set to go on a countrywide trip to push anti-Congress, anti-BJP regional parties to form a Third Front and project Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the prime ministerial candidate.

"Mamata had called me and said she was expecting to win at least 38 seats in the next Lok Sabha elections and that she would need the rest of the seats to meet the magic figure of 272 to form the government at the Centre. For that, the team would visit the length and breadth of the country. We would pay special attention to UP, Chennai and Bihar," Barkati told The Sunday Express, adding they would tell other regional parties that while the Congress was riddled with corruption, BJP was a strict communal force and both the parties would lead to a misrule.

"So, the only alternative would be a Third Front comprising regional parties. The Prime Minister is involved in so many scams, such as the 2G and the Coalgate scams, but he has gone scot-free. Even finance minister P Chidambaram is not free from corruption. They have manipulated the CBI as well and spent a lot of money which has resulted in the price rise of essential commodities. On the other hand, BJP is responsible for Babri Masjid demolition and other communal riots. There cannot be a better alternative than Mamata who is known for her honesty and austerity," Barkati said.

He said Idris Ali, chairman of All India Minority Forum, would be another member of the team whereas other three members of the team were yet to be decided. "I will lead the team. There will be a formal announcement on December 16 and we will leave as soon as possible," Barkati added.

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