Ashish Shelar: Was not daawat-e-politics

Updated: Oct 15, 2019, 07:55 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

BJP's Ashish Shelar, Haji Arfat Shaikh invited for snacks and a chat by Muslim community at a Bandra-based mosque

Minister of school education, sports, and youth welfare of Maharashtra, Ashish Shelar and president of the Maharashtra State Minority Commission, Haji Arfat Shaikh attend the 'daawat' at the Bandra West mosque on Saturday
Minister of school education, sports, and youth welfare of Maharashtra, Ashish Shelar and president of the Maharashtra State Minority Commission, Haji Arfat Shaikh attend the 'daawat' at the Bandra West mosque on Saturday

Taking its pre-election game a notch higher, BJP heavyweights Ashish Shelar and Haji Arfat Shaikh met members of the Muslim community at a Bandra-based mosque for what they call a 'daawat' organised to welcome them. While the party honchos are of the opinion that the meeting was not a political one, former SP leader Farhan Azmi tweeted saying Shelar managed to bring even politics into a place of worship.

Bandra West MLA Shelar, who is also the minister of school education, sports, and youth welfare of Maharashtra, along with Haji Arfat Shaikh, president of the Maharashtra State Minority Commission, attended the 'daawat' at a mosque owned by Anwarul Quran Masjid and Madrasa Trust, located inside the Jamat E Jahmuria colony in Bandra West, around 2 pm on Saturday. The trustees of the mosque had invited the duo. Although Shelar and Arfat said the meeting was not political in nature, Farhan Azmi, son of SP state president Abu Asim Azmi tweeted saying that Shelar has done "what even Muslim leaders would never dare to do" i.e. bring politics into a place of worship.

Speaking to mid-day, Shelar said there was no 'meeting' as such. When asked whether civic issues were discussed, he said, "It was not a political meeting…I was called there for snacks. Everybody greeted us and then we left." Arfat, who jumped ship from the Shiv Sena to the BJP last year, said members of the Jamat invited him and Shelar to the mosque a little ahead of Saturday. "They (members) had even written a letter to me," he added. "When they came to meet me, they put forth various issues that the mosque is going through, especially some problems they are facing with the builder. They also invited Shelar to the mosque," he said.

Arfat further mentioned that the members met Shelar and invited him personally as well. However, he said that their visit to the mosque was a 'welcome event' attended by 30-40 people.

"Meeting is quite different from welcoming people. If a discussion had happened, then you could have called it a meeting. Humlog sherbet peeke nikal gaye (we left after having some sherbet)," he mentioned, adding, "Welcome kisi ka bhi kiya jata hai (anybody can be welcomed."

Arfat said that people wanted to meet Shelar since he was known for his work. "Shelar logon ke dil pe raaj karte hai (Shelar rules people's hearts)." Lastly, he mentioned that the problems of the mosque would be solved after the BJP wins the assembly elections.

One of the trustees of Anwarul Quran Masjid and Madrasa Trust, Mohammed Younis Khan, said, "Meeting unka (Shelar) satkar karne ke liye rakha gaya tha (the meeting was held to felicitate him)." He further said that it was like a get-together during which namkeen and sherbet were served. When asked whether civic issues were discussed, Khan just mentioned the problem they were facing with the builder.

Speaking to mid-day, SP state president Abu Asim Azmi slammed the Muslim community for supporting Shelar and the BJP.

"Muslims talwe chaat rahe hai (Muslims are trying to suck up to the BJP). The BJP doesn't give reservation to Muslims. The entire community should boycott them (BJP)," he said. Azmi also said that it was shameful that the community was supporting a party that has not declared a single Muslim candidate for the upcoming elections.

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