BJP lesser evil to Cong in dealing with minorities: Malayam

New Delhi: With an eye on UP assembly elections, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on Sunday launched a broadside against the Congress for adopting "anti-Muslim policies" and said in comparison, BJP was a "lesser evil" in dealing with minorities in the state.

"Whenever BJP has ruled, Muslims have not been been exploited… despite a couple of communal riots, their exploitation has been less," Yadav told a press conference here.

When asked whether he believed that the 2002 Gujarat riots could be termed as "minor issue", Yadav clarified that he was only referring to Uttar Pradesh and not the rest of India.

"They (BJP) have created problems in the country. The Gujarat Chief Minister himself carried out (2002 post-Godhra) riots as the party thought that it was the opportune moment to target Muslims," Yadav alleged.

Asked why BJP was better than Congress in dealing with minorities, the SP leader claimed that due to his party`s strong base, the BJP was scared of exploiting minorities.

"But Congress is arrogant. It is not concerned about our protests. But we will tackle it," he said.

In a statement issued after the press conference, Yadav demanded booking Mumbai Police Crime Branch officials who picked up Faiz Usmani, the brother of an Ahmedabad blast accused Afzal Usmani, for murder.

Faiz was picked for questioning in connection with the July 13 triple bombings from his residence and was later rushed to hospital after he complained of uneasiness, where he died.

"They should be arrested immediately and the case should be probed by a high powered team of human rights commission," he said in the statement.

 Virtually questioning the line of investigation of Mumbai Police in serial blasts, Yadav said people of the city were "not convinced" that real culprits have been arrested for the incidents.

To support his charge against the Congress, the SP leader referred to a report prepared by activist Harsh Mander on the issue.

Quoting from the report, Yadav said Congress was scared of using the term Muslim fearing BJP could exploit the issue to snatch Hindu votes from that party.

He claimed that instead of disbursing funds to Muslims, the Minorities Affairs Ministry works "as an obstacle" in the process.

"Despite reports by several committees on the state of Muslims, Congress governments have failed to implement them. I demand the Prime Minister to provide more facilities to Muslims. It will help you get more votes and I don`t mind that," Yadav said.

Against the backdrop of Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi supporting the cause of artisans, Yadav said his party will also support any plan by the central government in helping the community – most of them being Muslims – so that they can earn more money by exporting their items.

When asked about Rahul Gandhi`s political plans for UP, he said he was a youth with his own "style of functioning".

"How he works, you will come to know," he said referring to the assembly elections due early next year. He claimed that Congress leaders in UP were only limited to TV debates and newspapers and were not present at the grassroots level.

Yadav ducked questions on the removal of Darul Uloom Deoband`s Vice Chancellor Maulana Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi.

"It is their internal matter…," he said.