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Azharuddin's presence at Iftaar rakes up controversy

The sudden appearance of tainted former Indian cricket captain Mohd. Azharuddin at Iftaar parties including the one hosted by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu last week has triggered off controversy.

Azharuddin made a surprise appearance at the Iftaar party hosted by Sultan Salauddin Owaisi, president of the all India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and met the Chief Minister by chance. He evoked tremendous response from his fans who cheered him lustily.

Meanwhile, Naidu told reporters yesterday at TDP headquarters that Azharuddin was not invited to an Iftaar party hosted by him. "I didn't invite him but if somebody greets you at a function you just can't brush him aside," Naidu said.

It was stated that Asaduddin Owaisi, the city legislator and son of Sultan Salauddin Owaisi, MP, personally invited the cricketer who had remained incommunicado following his alleged involvement in the matchfixing scandal. Azharuddin mingled with the fans and had talks with Majlis' senior leader SS Owaisi in the presence of a large number of invitees.

The Chief Minister hosted the Iftaar party on Friday last, three days after Owaisi's party which was attended by prominent Muslims including Azharuddin who shared the table with the host. At both the Iftaar parties when reporters tried to talk to Azharuddin, he avoided them.

The state unit of the BJP youth wing on Saturday took strong exception to Azharuddin being invited to Iftaar parties by the AIMIM and the Chief Minister and demanded that the state government withdraw all sops, including the land given to him, in wake of the life ban imposed on him by the Indian Cricket Board.