LUCKNOW: Former MLA Imran Masood, who has been a prominent Muslim face in Saharanpur, quit Samajwadi Party to join Bahujan Samaj Party on Wednesday. Masood, the nephew of former Union minister, late Raheed Masood, had joined SP after quitting Congress just before the 2022 UP elections.
BSP national president Mayawati welcomed him in the party and blessed him besides giving him the additional responsibility of being the party's coordinator in western UP where he holds a considerable political clout.
"Imran Masood is a well known name in Uttar Pradesh, especially western UP's politics. He met me along with his supporters today. After quitting the Samajwadi Party, with good intentions and a promise to work for the party with full might, he joined the BSP. I welcome him," said Mayawati in a tweet, adding that after seeing his enthusiasm and excitement to work for the party, he has been made the party's coordinator for western UP today itself to make the party stronger at every level and connect the party with the minority community.
She said that Masood and others joining the BSP after the Azamgarh parliamentary bypoll and before the urban local body polls was a positive sign for the politics of UP as it showed that the Muslim community believes that it was not the SP but the BSP wneeded to get rid of the malicious and cruel politics of the BJP.
While Masood's crossing over to the BSP is a visible gain for it, especially at a time when the Mayawati's party is keen on bringing the Muslim vote back to its fold, it is also seen as a loss for the SP, which had received an unflinching support of Muslims in the 2022 UP elections.
After joining the BSP, Masood said that he had quit the Congress to join the SP before the 2022 assembly elections in UP for an "experiment" which eventually miserably failed. He had said at that time that Congress had given him all the respect but it was not an alternative to the BJP. "At present, it is the Samajwadi Party which has emerged as an alternative to the BJP, which can check its forward movement," he has said then.On Wednesday, he, however, extended the same reason for joining the BSP.
"Muslims voted en masse for the SP in assembly elections but the outcome was cipher. Today, in UP, it is only the BSP's vote bank with which we (Muslims) can come up as a strong alternative against the BJP. The BSP is the only party with which we can become a formidable force in UP. Our policy will be the same as that of Behenji which is sarvajan hitay, sarvajan sukhay," he said.
Masood comes from a politically influential family, often referred to as the 'Gangoh gharana' in Saharanpur. His uncle Rashid Masood had also been with various parties like Janata Party, Congress, SP and BSP at different points of time in his political career.
His political career started when he was elected the chairman of Saharanpur Nagar Palika in 2006. He contested the 2007 assembly election from Muzaffarabad assembly seat (which is now Behat) in Saharanpur as an independent and won. Though Samajwadi Party had given him the ticket, he chose to contest as an independent given the rift in the family.
He then switched over to Congress and contested the 2012 assembly elections on its ticket from Nakur, but lost. In 2014, he came back to the SP and got the ticket from Saharanpur parliamentary seat but had to quit the party because uncle Rashid Masood wanted a ticket for his son. In the 2014 elections, Imran Masood also hit the headlines for his hate speech against then PM candidate Narendra Modi. He contested on Congress ticket from Saharanpur but lost again.
Later, he contested the 2017 assembly elections and 2019 general elections on the Congress ticket but lost each time. "What comes out of my decision to join the BSP will be clear with the result of the urban local body polls and 2024 general elections," he said on Wednesday.
His disagreement with the SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had started as soon as he had joined the party in January this year as he was not given a ticket to contest from Nakur. Masood had also reached out to the BSP at that time seeking a ticket but the effort did not materialise. Sources in the BSP said, "he has sought tickets for his family members in the upcoming mayoral polls and the party will see to it."