Special Correspondent

I am not in the race, says Yaqoob Qureshi

NEW DELHI: The Loktantrik Bahujan Dal (LBD), the breakaway faction of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, will choose its new leader shortly.

"The present leader, Rajinder Singh Rana, will be replaced ... in a day or two," State Minorities Welfare and Haj Minister, Haji Yaqoob Qureshi, told presspersons here on Saturday.

Mr. Qureshi, an LBD MLA from Meerut, had created a flutter announcing a reward of Rs. 51 crore for any killer of the Danish cartoonist who drew the caricatures of Prophet Muhammed that were published in some European newspapers.

Claiming that all members were united, Mr. Qureshi said the election would be unanimous. He was not in the race for the leadership.

On Friday, the Supreme Court asked 32 of the 37 MLAs, who merged with the Samajwadi Party, to sit as a separate group under the LBD till the matter was disposed of. In an interim order, the court also allowed five MLAs, who had resigned from the Ministry and the post of chairmen of various boards following the High Court order, to function as BSP MLAs.

Mr. Qureshi said he would launch an `Insaniyat Yatra' in the State to promote communal harmony. Denying that the reward on the head of the cartoonist and the `yatra' were contradictory, Mr. Qureshi said he announced the reward as a follower of the Prophet.