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Muslim group supports Vajpayee

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH 21. A `Himayat Committee' convened by Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed has issued an appeal in favour of Muslims offering their electoral support to the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Among those who are supporting this initiative are: Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, president of the Islamic centre; Tanvir Ahmed, chairman of the Central Haj Committee; several teachers of Jamia Millia Islamia, Qazi Obaidur Rehman Hashmi, Sohail Ahmed Farooquee and Kauser Mazhari; and Maulana Jameel Ahmed Ilyasi, president of the All-India Imam organisation.

The appeal said the Muslim community welcomed the fact that for the first time in many decades there was no emotional or divisive issue dominating the election scene. It pointed out that for decades Muslims supported the Congress but the Congress rule kept Muslims disempowered socially, economically and politically.

The statement issued by the `Himayat Committee' in the form of a press release praised Mr. Vajpayee, who had "endeared himself to Indian Muslims with his statesmanship, his vision and his sense of justice.'' It also said that his approach to contentious issues had been moderate and sensitive. The Prime Minister deserved the support of Muslims, the statement said, as he was the "right leader to lead India at this critical juncture in our national life.''

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