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Ghulam Nabi Azad is wrong, mass appeal matters & not religion: Congress leaders

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Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said few Hindu candidates call him for campaigning any more, but local leaders deny that it’s because he’s Muslim.

New Delhi: A cross-section of Congress leaders across states has denied senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s charge that Hindu candidates don’t invite him for campaigning any more, insinuating it was because he is Muslim.

Speaking to alumni of the Aligarh Muslim University Thursday, Azad had said that since 2014, Hindu candidates had stopped asking him to campaign for them, fearing he would hurt their chances of getting elected.

“Today we are divided, society is divided, friends are divided… Since (my) Youth Congress days, I have been campaigning across the country from Andaman Nicobar to Lakshadweep. Around 95 per cent of those who used to call me were Hindu brothers and leaders, and just five per cent were Muslim brothers,” Azad said.

“However, in the past four years, the percentage has dipped from 95 to 20.

“Aaj darta hai aadmi bulane se, ki iska voter pe kya asar hoga (They are afraid of calling me, lest it affects votes).”

‘Mass appeal counts, not religion’

Local leaders, however, say it’s not religion but other important factors — such as the mass appeal of the campaigner — that play a decisive role in which leaders are invited.

“In the case of assembly elections, there are a number of aspects that have to be looked into. Candidates decide whom they should call, as they want to call those who have mass appeal and can help them get votes,” said Bodh Lal Shukla, Lucknow city Congress committee president.

Azad, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir is not considered a mass leader, despite winning in the Lok Sabha elections and assembly elections twice each. In 2014, he lost from Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency.

In Chhattisgarh, Azad is part of the list of 40 star campaigners that the state Congress has prepared. The others in the list include Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Shiv Kumar Dahariya, working president of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee, said: “Azad ji came to Chhattisgarh a fortnight ago to campaign. The star campaigners will appear for candidates irrespective of whether the candidate is Hindu or Muslim.

“This type of differentiation happens in the BJP, not the Congress.”

Mahendra Jeet Singh Malviya, a sitting MLA from Bagidora (Banswara) in Rajasthan said: “Congress is a secular party, so we don’t invite leaders based on their religion or caste. It could be his (Azad’s) personal statement.”

Chandrashekhar Tiwari, the district Congress committee president for Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, pointed out that the Congress’s list of star campaigners hasn’t changed much.

“The list has largely remained the same over the past few years, so naturally, candidates invite from that list itself. There is no question of Hindu-Muslim or caste-based invitations. We see every voter as a voter only, not as a Hindu or a Muslim,” he said.

Muslim leaders campaigned in Gujarat & UP too

Many MLAs in Gujarat that ThePrint spoke to said they had invited Muslim leaders to campaign for them in December 2017, and that religion was not an issue.

Kirit Patel, MLA from Patan, said: “There is no truth to (Azad’s) statement. While campaigning, I had invited a number of Muslim leaders.”

Mohansinh C. Rathwa, MLA from Chhota Udaipur, said: “Whether it is elections at the level of taluka, district, assembly or Lok Sabha, we have always invited star campaigners, whether they are Muslim or Hindu. I can definitely say that I got a lot of Muslim votes, and they were with us.”

Azad had also campaigned across Uttar Pradesh during the 2017 assembly elections.

Naresh Saini, MLA from Behat, said: “Ghulam Nabi ji campaigned twice and attended two jan sabhas. I also won by a good margin of 30,000 votes, so I don’t know why he said that. Unke aane se mujhe zyada vote mile (I got more votes because he came to campaign for me).”

‘Religious polarisation is a reality’

Political scientist Suhas Palshikar, who taught at the Savitribai Phule Pune University, said Azad’s statement was a reflection of the “religious polarisation” of elections.

“Though no candidate will admit it, it’s a fact. Often, they don’t want a Muslim campaigner in a non-Muslim constituency, as he may not be useful in catching votes,” Palshikar said.

“Though there was always an undercurrent, this trend has become stronger in recent times.”

Palshikar added that though the image of the Congress is of a secular party, it does not want to offend the Hindu electorate. “Congress also wants to position itself as a party of the Hindus, partly out of desperation, as it is contesting in the Hindi heartland,” he said.

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  2. LOL! congress is secular!! it’s leader changes caste, religion like a shirt depending on where he goes for campaigning. Catholic, parsi, christian, janeaudhari Brahmin, skull cap, atheist, casteist,… THE flavor changes depending on the state, constituency.. That is why it is in a disarray. In Gujarat, karnataka, MP, now they are playing the hindu card. Kashmir, UP, muslim card. But nothing is working. Both God and the people are not helping them.

  3. When Mr. Owasi & his kind of Leaders, Screams & Talks about the National Anthem or the Saluting of the National Flag The Citizens who really respect the NATION are Hurt Have the so called Congress Leaders especially MUSLIM’s ever say anything about it? that may be the REASON as Citizens have a feeling that ‘Birds of the same Feathers Flock together’ ….

  4. When Mr. Owasi Screams & Talks about the National Anthem or the Saluting of the National Flag The Citizens who really respect the NATION are Hurt Have the so called Congress Leaders especially MUSLIM’s ever say anything about it? that may be the REASON as Citizens have a feeling that ‘Birds of the same Feathers Flock together’ ….

  5. The body language of MounMohan Singh and Sharad are modest/meek and whereas Rahul and Gulam shows arrogance attitude. ManMohan forgets whatever Rahul does, including tearing off constitutional papers on his face, is disgrace to office of PM. People of India would never elect such arrogant, dynasty, entitlement behavior unless he publicly apologizes to Indian public the misdeeds of himself and his predecessors and tender the Bofors and other scam money to Indian Govt and mend his ways for good forever

  6. Congress was very good to fool, misguide Indians in the past on a name of religion, cast, language, food, cloths, region, location and any thing you can think of. However, Indians are not fool any more and very well informed. Siddhu made a remark about liking Pakistan betterthan south indian states. Manishankar loves Pakistan, and now Ghulam Nabi Azad making a comments and statement to excite some indians who can be fool and scam easily. No body cares about such stupid statements.
    Indians need to wiseup. stop human and dynasty worshiping.

  7. Congress leaders, right from Nehru, Indira to Sonia and Rahul are communal, power hungry, go to any extent for power and money. Gulam is always gulam for persons Indira, Rajiv, Sonia, Rahul and even Priyaka Vadra if they come into politics. Old Habits die hard

  8. This is very typical of Congress. Allow its leaders to make outrageous comments, meant to divide the people ( Mani Shankar Iyer, Tharoor, Digvijay Singh et al). Then disown such comments as ‘personal opinion’, or give some spin, so that both views are in public mind. If it backfires, they can say they disowned it. If it succeeds, they will flog it for all it is worth. Congress is the wost divisive force India has had, ‘ANYTHING for VOTES’.

  9. Congress has always been a divisive and communal party with a secular mukauta. A rabidly anti Hindu organization. Such comments from their top leaders like Azad are not surprising at all.

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