Jihadi leader who offered Rs 25 crore for Bush’s head is Congress’s new found love

published on March 27, 2009



Cong joins hands with Muslim body

Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

UP outfit leader had offered Rs 25 crore for Bush’s head

Congress might have termed Varun Gandhi’s inflammatory speeches in Pilibhit as violent and communal, but on Thursday the party saw nothing wrong in aligning with a radical Muslim outfit, Ittehad-e-Millat Council in Uttar Pradesh whose president had announced a reward of Rs 25 crore on former US President George Bush’s head.

Ittehad-e-Millat Council will support Congress in the parliamentary elections and the parties would have a seat-sharing arrangement in the State Assembly election slated for 2012. The parties will also have joint campaigning for parliamentary elections.

Ittehad-e-Millat Council president M Tauqeer Raza Khan kicked up a controversy in 2006 when he announced a reward of Rs 25 crore to anyone who got him the head of Bush. Raza was provoked over publication of “objectionable” cartoon of Prophet Mohammed by a Danish artist. The cartoon had angered Muslims all across the world. Khan had blamed Bush for protecting and encouraging people like the Danish cartoonist and appealed to every Muslim to contribute Re 1 for the award. Bush, who is considered a great friend of India by Congress-led UPA Government, was in India at that time.

As Congress general secretary in-charge of UP Digvijay Singh announced the alliance with Ittehad-e-Millat Council at party headquarters here on Thursday, he faced a barrage of questions on whether Congress supported the Muslim outfit’s ideology. At first, Singh tried to brush these remarks under the carpet by claiming that these were not made by Khan. However, Khan himself agreed that he had made those remarks at that time.

The Congress was red-faced as it claimed that it had not extensively vetted Ittehad-e-Millat Council’s background. Digvijay Singh tried to save face by saying: “They have extended support to us. But we don’t subscribe to those views.”

When asked how it could join hands with an outfit which has been propagating violence when Congress has been criticising Varun Gandhi for giving such inflammatory speeches, Singh said: “What views were expressed by Ittehad-e-Millat Council’s president were before he joined hands with Congress. Under no condition do we subscribe to any ideology or any thought which is communal in nature or which propagates violence.”

Singh tried to play down the issue by feigning ignorance to Raza’s controversial remarks which occupied media front pages for days. “Frankly, I didn’t know. Fanatic religious fundamentalism is something we have always opposed. Some statement might have been made in an emotionally surcharged environment but that cannot be a considered ideology of a party,” he said.

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