The Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid Thursday said he was inviting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but not Narendra Modi to mark his son’s annointment as the Naib Imam, saying the Indian prime minister was yet to win the confidence of the country’s Muslims.
Syed Ahmed Bukhari, however, said he had invited four Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, for the Nov 29 dinner to mark the occasion, as a cover up for his singling out of the country’s head.
"We have invited the prime minister of Pakistan as we have had relations with him since my (late) father’s time, unlike with Modi, whom we have not invited," Bukhari told IANS.
Ahmed Bukhari’s son, 19-year-old Shaban, will be annointed the Naib Imam Nov 22.
"Modi has not done anything for Indian Muslims even after coming to power. Indian Muslims have not forgiven him for the 2002 Gujarat riots," the senior Bukhari said.
"Modi has not even apologized (for the riots) and reached out to Muslims. He is yet to win the confidence of Muslims."
Ahmed Bukhari said invitations for the dinner had also been extended to Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi.
The Bukharis, originally from Central Asia, have been the traditional custodians of the Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque, since it was built during the Mughal era in the 17th century, facing the Red Fort.
The late Abdullah Bukhari became politically influential after coming out openly against the Congress party following the Emergency rule of 1975-77. He was later courted by politicians of all hues.
The present Shahi Imam, Ahmed Bukhari, has courted controversies, mainly over some of his radical views.