Indian Elections 2014: Delhi Jama Masjid Imam announces support for Congress

NEW DELHI: The Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Delhi Syed Ahmed Bukhari on Friday announced support for Congress, a few days before the world’s largest democracy will begin its weeks-long election process, Indian media reported.

The 16th general election in India will start on April 7 in which over 814 million voters will cast their votes across 35 states of the country. Voting will be held in nine stages and will continue till May 12.

Rahul Gandhi of ruling Congress party, Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are the main candidates for the slot of Prime Minister.

“For the coming Lok Sabha elections, I announce support for the Congress. We have to fight unitedly against communal forces,” Bukhari said at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday.

The Shahi Imam also announced supporting Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and Congress ally Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar.

Bukhari appealed to Muslims to support Congress and ensure that secular votes are not divided, days after his meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi sparked a row.

Though the Muslim community has grievances against Congress, still a decision to support the party was taken as the “country cannot be allowed to go to the communal forces”, Bukhari said.

“The nation faces danger from communal forces. We should ensure secular votes are not divided,” the Imam said. He said that the country was facing a bigger problem of communalism and “communal forces are working day in and day out to break the country.”

The announcement by Bukhari came three days after his meeting with Gandhi that raised hackles of the BJP, which accused her of communalising politics and said it was case of violation of the model code of conduct.