Clerics may not influence voting as much as political parties think

Last week the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid exhorted his followers to vote for the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections after he met with party president Sonia Gandhi. The consensus was the Congress would get a boost because his announcement but a story in the Times of India suggests clerics may not wield as much power they project.

 Clerics may not influence voting as much as political parties think

The Shahi Imam's word doesn't usually influence polls. PTI

The paper quotes Masoom Aziz Kazmi, a retired IPS office who researches Muslim politics and the communuty’s contribution in the freedom movement and post-independence nation building, saying clerics have been taking “political parties for a ride”.

According to Kazmi, neither the Shahi Imam or any other cleric could make Muslims vote for the BJP

“In 1977, Muslims did not vote against the Congress because Abdullah Bukhari exhorted them to do so. Similarly in 1980, the same Muslim voter would have voted for the Congress even if the Shahi Imam exhorted them to do otherwise,” Kazmi told the paper.

The story cites other prominent Muslims who say that clerics should not even be in the business of telling their followers whom to vote for. Hussainul Haque, chief of the Organization of Gaya-based clerics, told the paper it was “patently wrong” for any cleric to say they were issuing a fatwa about voting. According to him, clerics can offer a person opinion but nothing more. He also thought the appeal of clerics did not have pan-India appeal

Haque felt the appeal of the Shahi Imam would be limited "to a section of the residents of the area around the Delhi Jama Masjid".

You can read the full Times of India story here.

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Updated Date: Apr 14, 2014 23:11:32 IST