SP woos Muslims, cleric gets MoS rank

SP woos Muslims, cleric gets MoS rank

 In an apparent move to woo Muslims and strengthen the Samajwadi Party’s position in the central UP districts of Bareilly and Moradabad, the Akhilesh Yadav government has appointed a prominent Muslim cleric as an advisor with the status of a minister of state.

Cleric Maulana Tauqueer Raza Khan is associated with the famous Bareilly-based Sufi shrine, and is considered influential among the Barelvi sect of Muslims.

Khan, who is also chairman of Ittehad-e-Millat Council, has been made advisor in the handloom department, according to official sources here.

SP sources here said the party did not have the backing of any prominent Barelvi cleric in the region, and Khan’s appointment will go a long way in strengthening its position in the belt in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Khan, however, said he accepted the offer with some riders. “I want a thorough probe into all communal riots that have taken place in the state since the SP government assumed power. The guilty should be punished but innocent people should be let off,” he said.

Sources close to Khan said the cleric has also demanded five Lok Sabha seats for his outfit from SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

While SP hailed the appointment of Khan, BJP and BSP slammed it, saying it was nothing but an attempt to garner support of the Muslim community.

BJP leaders asked Governor B L Joshi on Wednesday to cancel the appointment. BSP leader Munkad Ali said Muslims would not support SP in the next general elections as the government had failed to ensure their safety.

The SP government had taken several steps to woo the community in the past few days, including the decision to withdraw cases against seven terror accused.

Recurring communal riots, exit of Bukhari and the DSP’s killing have triggered a sharp resentment among Muslims in the state, and the community has taken to the streets in parts of the state.

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