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'Fatwa minister' is SP's trump card

Apr 09, 2007 10:55 PM IST India India

New Delhi: Remember the UP minister who hit the headlines when he announced Rs 51 crore reward for the head of the Danish cartoonist who lampooned the prophet? The Minority Welfare Minister in Mulayam Singh government—Haji Yakub Qureshi is busy these days campaigning in the Muslim-dominated areas of Western UP, securing a concrete vote bank for the Samajwadi party ahead of the assembly polls. He is probably among the most colourful candidates who goes to the polls on Friday from United Democratic Front in Western UP. While Qureshi continues with his aggressive roadshows, his campaign managers keep him updated on the constituencies-caste-permutations. The Muslim leader is making big promising in his campaigns across UP villages. He announced a donation for the upkeep of the local temple while campaigning in the Shorokha village on the outskirts of Meerut. At another public meeting he slipped into the role of a rebel rouser. On being asked if he regretted issuing a fatwa against the Danish cartoonist, he said, "I did not have to shell out the Rs 51 crore I announced. Allah took away the cartoonist. He killed him." The ‘secular’ leader ever ready to rent-a-fatwa says Bush is “world’s biggest terrorist” and he is not scared to confront him. "The biggest tyrant in this world is American president George Bush. I am a string willed person and I can see him in the eye. I can even fight with him," he says. Thanks to his rebel-rousing speeches, Haji Yakub Qureshi has managed to create some political space for himself in UP. And for the other parties that are not quite on the radar of the Muslim voter, but are eyeing the vote-bank nevertheless, Qureshi has become a rallying point.