As the Mahagathbandhan released its manifesto on Saturday, the Congress party has been questioned on giving a ticket to former student union president from Aligarh Muslim University Maskoor Usmani. Responding to the controversy around Usmani's candidature, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that it is being raised by the BJP in order to "divert attention". He clarified that Usmani is not a Jinnah supporter and claimed that he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for removal of Jinnah's portrait from AMU, Parliament and Bombay High Court, adding that the PM never responded.
BJP is preparing controversy in hatred factory, to divert attention. Our Jale candidate never aligned with Jinnah's ideology. When he was an AMU student, he wrote to PM for removal of Jinnah's portrait from AMU, Parliament & Bombay HC. But PM Modi never responded: RS Surjewala https://t.co/Tcc3kqW9zN pic.twitter.com/syKc7uuShN— ANI (@ANI) October 17, 2020
In 2018, BJP Aligarh MP Satish Gautam wrote to the university vice-chancellor seeking removal of the portrait of Pakistan's father of nation Mohammad Ali Jinnah from the University. Usmani was then the student union president in the University and violence broke out between right-wing supporters and students Union over the controversy. Usmani was then accused of raising anti-national slogans. However, AMU administration had stated that the portrait of Jinnah was put up in the University in 1938 and he holds a 'lifetime membership' along with Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Their portraits are also placed in the University, AMU administration had clarified. It was then that Usmani and other students of AMU wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the UP government seeking action against those who entered the campus and sought removal of Jinnah's portrait, allegedly instigating violence.
Usmani was a student union chief in AMU in 2017 and had made headlines after BJP Aligarh MP Satish Gautam wrote to the university vice-chancellor objecting to the portrait of Pakistan's father of nation Mohammad Ali Jinnah that is hung in the University. Usmani was then accused of raising anti-national slogans. In 2019, he was booked under sedition for the same, but charges were later dropped. Earlier this year, Usmani criticised the UAPA after the arrest of Jamia students, as a result of which his Twitter account was suspended for a brief period, as per reports.
Union Minister Giriraj Singh raised questions over Congress’ decision to field Maskoor Usmani from Darbhanga’s Jale constituency. Speaking to Republic TV, the Minister of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries asked Mahagathbandhan to issue a clarification on the candidacy of Usmani, terming him as a supporter of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Giriraj Singh also added that Congress and Mahagathbandhan should answer whether they also support Jinnah and took a jibe at the alliance saying if Sharjeel Imam, who is currently in judicial custody, will be their star campaigner ahead of Bihar elections.