//In trauma, BJP turns to Quran

In trauma, BJP turns to Quran

Wednesday, April 26, 2006, The Telegraph, Calcutta

New Delhi, April 25: The Sangh parivar’s political edifice may be erected on an anti-minority underpinning but when it came to praying for Pramod Mahajan, the BJP turned secular.

The whole of the Quran was recited in the party headquarters this afternoon by over 300 maulanas who converged to pray for the BJP general secretary battling for life at Mumbai’s Hinduja hospital.

Hindu functionaries, including veteran J.P. Mathur, sat for over two hours in the press conference hall and heard out the recitation of all 30 chapters of the holy book.

Mathur recalled that the only time the Quran was read in similar fashion was when the Uttar Pradesh unit of the BJP was set up in Lucknow. He chanted an Urdu couplet to convey that God had many names but he was one.

The reading, described as “Koran mantra” by a BJP employee, was organised by Tanveer Hyder Usmani, chief of the BJP’s minority cell. Other old-timers who joined the prayers included Ram Kirpal Sinha, Shyam Jaju and Mange Ram Garg, all former RSS pracharaks.

The same hall was used for the past two days for yagnas and to chant the Mahamrityunjaya and Gayatri mantras. “Nothing else in on our mind other than prayer,” said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.

He said the TV coverage of Pramod’s battle against death had “moved” even those not familiar with him to pray. “It’s a shocking incident and has evoked the kind of sympathy for him we never expected.”

He said there were reports of mass prayers being held in churches and mosques in far-flung places of Maharashtra, Pramod’s home state.

Prominent Muslim clerics who took part in the Quran reading were Syed Ali Moosa Nizami of Delhi’s Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin and Maulana Shakeel Raza of Bareilly.

This is the first time that the 11 Ashoka Road headquarters has been the venue of a Muslim congregation.