In a letter to people who spoke out against him over the weekend, Shahabuddin said that the open letter to Modi was “mistakenly” sent on a letterhead of the Joint Committee for Muslim Organisations for Empowerment. “Nowhere in this letter have I asked Muslims to forgive Modi or to vote for him. However, it is a fact that through various devises over the years Modi has been able to soften some Muslims of the upper classes. The strategy behind this letter was to caution them and to rethink about Modi on the eve of the election, so that they could be weaned away by taking note that Modi has not fulfilled any real Muslim demands,” he wrote in the second letter.
Shahabuddin added that it’s important for Muslims to read what he has written as “guidelines” issued by an organisation he is part of. The JCMOE is a platform set up a decade ago to push for Muslim reservations. Shahabuddin said that JCMOE had issued similar guidelines before the recent UP Assembly polls, urging Muslims to vote unitedly. He added, “Its purpose is that Muslim representation in the legislatures should increase with secular, capable and reliable persons, preferably Muslims. This purpose can be achieved only if Muslim votes are not scattered and thus ineffective, but are concentrated and cast unitedly in the favour of one selected secular candidate. As far as I know no member group has taken any objection to this approach.”
Arshad Madani and Maulana Nomani (both factions of Jaimat Ulema e Hind), Tariq Anwar (NCP), Zafarul Islam (head of Majlis e Mushawarat), Dr Manzoor Alam (All India Milli Council), Mohd Ahmed (Jamaat e Islami) have been addressed in the clarification letter.
Shahabuddin has apologised for using the letterhead of the JCMOE (whose component organisations have distanced themselves from the letter) and said using the letterhead was a “mistake” as the letter was a “personal and strategic” initiative.
The storm over his suggested ‘advice’ to Muslims created complications for Shahabuddin, as his daughter is a minister in the JD(U)-BJP government in Bihar. The banner headlines in the Urdu press suggested that he had taken this stand as a part of his personal agenda.