Lucknow, Apr 16 UNI | 3 months ago

BJP president and party candidate from Lucknow Lok Sabha constituency Rajnath Singh is sparing no efforts to look like a true successor of icon Atal Behari Vajpayee and his recent meetings with the Muslim clerics is just another attempt to present his moderate image in the constituency, represented by the former prime minister.

He does not forget to mention the name of Mr Vajpayee in his speeches and mingles with the Muslims like the veteran BJP leader used to do.

The Bharatiya Janata Party president in the quest of stepping into the shoes of Mr Vajpayee, met with initial success when Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, a noted Shia cleric, commented that Mr Singh reminded him of Mr Vajpayee.

In another significant utterance, the Shia cleric said Mr Singh enjoyed more acceptability among the Muslims than the party's Prime Ministerial pick and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. He, however, made it clear that his support to Mr Singh was based on his individuality rather than his candidature.

In fact, the Muslim wooing by the BJP stepped up immediately after Mr Singh filed his nomination from Lucknow parliamentary constituency which will witness polling on April 30. He held a series of meetings with the Muslim clerics, Urdu editors and intelligentsia among the minority section.

'Rajnath Singh is trying to imitate the style of Atal but he cannot match the credibility, the former prime minister enjoyed among the Muslims,' a senior BJP leader on the condition of anonymity said.

The indication by Mr Jawwad about Shia's support has given a boost to the image of BJP vis-a-vis secular transformation of the party.

The BJP, already receiving criticism from the opposition for meeting the Muslim clerics was even termed as double standard by the Congress and other parties. The party has defended the meeting and claimed that Mr Singh's meeting was just a routine campaigning by a candidate.

Mr Jawwad, however, without giving his direct support to BJP president, said his image is like that of former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee but on the other hand the Muslim community is afraid of Mr Modi.

He, further, claimed the ground reality was that the best period of Indo-Pak relations existed when Mr Vajpayee was the External Affairs Minister.

Mr Jawwad, however, denied having sent a letter to senior BJP leader Amit Shah appealing the BJP to make Mr Singh the candidate from Lucknow.

'The so called letter is a forged and I have registered an FIR against it,' he said adding 'the Congress leaders could be behind this conspiracy .'

Meanwhile, another Muslim cleric Mulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali refused to make any comments on the outcome of his meeting with Mr Singh.

(Posted on 16-04-2014)