Three Congress candidates fighting from Maharashtra are in the news for all the wrong reasons. An old letter signed by them, written on their official letterhead, has found its way back, just as the election for Maharashtra kicked in. The Congress leaders — Amin Patel, Aslam Sheikh and Naseem Khan — are seen batting for terrorist Yakub Memon convicted in 1993 Mumbai blasts.
The letter was written back in July 28, 2015, it has resurfaced now, causing deep embarrassment and discomfort within the Congress. In the controversial letter written to the then President of India, all five signatories, including the trio, are seen “humbly” requesting for “mercy” for Yakub Abdul Razzaq Memon who was held guilty for his involvement in the 1993 Mumbai blasts.
“Sir, we most humbly request your Excellency to consider the case of Yakub Memon and request your good self to grant the clemency under Article 72 enshrined in the Constitution of India and commute the death sentence into life imprisonment (sic)”, reads the letter.
The signed letter written on official letterhead has assumed renewed significance with the BJP crying foul. BJP’s Mumbai unit spokesperson Suresh Nakhua called it a “Pakistan-loving mentality of Congress”. Speaking to IANS Nakhua alleged, “Amin Patel is fighting from Mumbadevi, Aslam Sheikh from Malad and Naseem Khan from Chandivali. But all of them signed that letter asking for the mercy of a person who was instrumental in ripping the city off with bomb blasts. This shows the Pakistan-loving mentality of the Congress party”.
The campaign in Mumbai also had a subtle communal undertone with Mumbai chief of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party Mangal Prabhat Lodha recently hinting that the explosives used for the blasts were “manufactured in the lanes within 5 km”, while he was campaigning at Mumbadevi, Patel’s home-turf. He apparently referred to the Dongri and Nagpada areas, inhabited mostly by minorities, while referring to “lanes”.
The Election Commission on Thursday issued a show-cause notice to him taking cognizance of the matter. But with the BJP raking up this 2015 letter on the day of the election, the discomfort within the Congress is palpable.