Meraj Khalid Noor, popularly known as Bihar’s Osama bin Laden due to his uncanny resemblance to the late Al-Qaeda leader, on Friday announced that he would contest the Lok Sabha poll against BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi from Varanasi.
“I have decided to contest polls against Modi from Varanasi,” said Noor, who is the president of Ram India, a newly-floated political outfit.
“After much thought I decided to fight against Modi,” Noor told IANS.
Patna—based Noor was once the darling of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and former chief minister Lalu Prasad and the Lok Janshakti Party’s (LJP) Ram Vilas Paswan to woo Muslim voters.
It is a different story now.
“I campaigned in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls for Paswan and in the 2005 assembly elections for Lalu,” the businessman—turned—politician said.
He now complains that Lalu Prasad and Paswan “used me” to attract Muslim votes to their parties.
Noor is tall, well built and sports a long black beard. Like the now dead Al Qaeda chief, he is always seen in white robes and a turban to match. The Al Qaeda leader was gunned down by US commandos in his hideout in Pakistan in May 2011.
Noor admitted then it was his mere resemblance to the world’s then most wanted man that was capitalised on as “I am neither a good speaker nor a leader with any support base”.
In Patna and across Bihar, people don’t know his real name. Everyone calls him bin Laden.
According to Salam Iraqi, one of his friends, Noor plunged into politics in 2004 when he sought ticket from Paswan’s LJP to contest the assembly polls. His plea was turned down.
But Paswan asked Noor to campaign for his party and he would introduce him as “Osama bin Laden” at election rallies.
Noor switched over to the RJD in September 2005 and campaigned for Lalu Prasad.
He was so much in demand that Paswan and Lalu Prasad would invariably find a seat for him on their campaign helicopters, even if it meant dropping a senior party leader.
Noor is not a hardliner.
He is the grandson of Kazi Muzahidul Islam, former president of the Muslim Personal Law Board. His father, Noor Ahmad, was a close associate of veteran socialist leader George Fernandes.
Such was Noor’s image that Narendra Modi once made a mention about him.
Late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan had accused Lalu Prasad and Paswan in 2005 of glorifying “the most wanted terrorist in the world” by asking Noor to campaign for them.