Stung by harsh criticism over his open letter to Hyderabad parliamentarian Asaduddin Owaisi in which he discouraged his party from contesting many seats in Uttar Pradesh, All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Maulana Sajjad Nomani clarified on Sunday his position by praising Owaisi. Nonetheless, he stood by his suggestion that the Hyderabad-based party should not contest 100 seats in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
Recently, Maulana Sajjad, in a private capacity, wrote to the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen supremo, about the Uttar Pradesh elections. He cautioned Owaisi about the possibility of a division of votes and the importance of a united OBC community in Uttar Pradesh in combating what he said were fascist forces. He urged Owaisi to field candidates in constituencies where there were near-certain chances of them emerging victorious. He also suggested that Owaisi should enter into alliances with others on other seats.
In his second open letter, Maulana Sajjad sought to placate those who harshly criticised him. He reiterated his respect for Owaisi. He also said that his suggestion stems from the situation on the ground in Uttar Pradesh.
“Once again after having Allah as my witness, I say that the Muslim community of India badly needs a political leader like Owaisi. But it is my opinion that in the upcoming UP elections his candidates should be in constituencies where possibilities of emerging as winners are strong, and not contest 100 seats,” he wrote.
Maulana Sajjad thanked those who voiced support for his opinion as well as those who were critical of it.
Owaisi has not responded directly to Maulana’s first open letter. However, he did state that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s constitution states that it does not enter into politics. In a press conference in Uttar Pradesh, he said he had no comment when a journalist asked him a question on Maulana Sajjad’s letter.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board General Secretary Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani distanced the Muslim organisation from Maulana Sajjad’s comments. In a statement, Maulana Khalid said that only communications from his office should be considered as the Board’s official statement.