The family members of the Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan joined Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s roadshow and played the bhajan Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram to the tune of the shehnai. Defending their act, the maestro’s family said it “should not be viewed as a political endorsement” of the Congress.
The family had refused to accompany the BJP candidate in the constituency, Narendra Modi, and propose his nomination. The family members said their performance was no endorsement of the Congress and should not be seen through the prism of politics.
“We would have performed for Narendra Modi and even [AAP candidate] Arvind Kejriwal. We do not have any political affiliations. No one should mix politics with music,” said Afaque Haider, grandson of the late shehnai maestro.
A number of Khan’s relatives welcomed Mr. Gandhi by playing shehnai at Beniabagh in Varanasi which has been seen as some kind of support to the Congress by the family nearly two weeks after it rejected a request by the BJP to become one of the proposers for Mr. Modi when he filed nominations from this temple town.
The BJP also played down the issue. The party said the family members of the late maestro were apolitical and had also performed during a dinner for Mr. Modi on Friday night at a hotel where BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah were present.
“No one should see any politics in our performance today,” Mr. Haider said.
(With additional reporting by PTI)