Teams of the Maulana Mahmood Madani faction of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind have been working in Rae Bareli — where Lok Sabha polls were held on Wednesday — and Amethi to garner support for Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
Madani, the Jamiat general secretary who intends to visit Varanasi to ensure consolidation of anti-Narendra Modi votes, made it clear that support in Rae Bareli and Amethi was for the high profile candidates rather than the Congress in general.
“Though Jamiat is a religious organisation, workers have the independence to take part in the political process. When workers came to me saying they wanted to go to these two places and Varanasi I supported their decision. But this does not mean a blanket support for the Congress. We think it is important that these two leaders get elected, that is all. We have no dearth of complaints against the Congress,” the Maulana told The Indian Express.
Amethi goes to polls on May 7 and Varanasi on May 14.
Jamiat sources say the teams have been careful to not polarise the electorate. There have been no unnecessarily harsh words for Modi while the Jamiat galvanised support for Sonia and Rahul.
Almost echoing Priyanka Gandhi’s battle cry in Rae Bareli and Amethi, Maulana Hakeemuddin, secretary of Jamiat, says: “We appealed to people that this is not just any other election, it is a battle between two mindsets, that of Mahatma Gandhi and Nathuram Godse. People should unite for the nation. We are speaking to both Hindus and Muslims and so far have the feeling that things are going the way we want them to. I am here in my personal capacity.”
A Jamiat team taking stock in Varanasi picked up conflicting signals. Some feel Madani, when he goes to Varanasi, should declare support for Ajay Rai. They feel being a local leader, the Congress candidate may have an edge. There are others inclined to support Arvind Kejriwal arguing he was the first to challenge Modi. There are some misgivings about criminal cases against Rai though. Rai has been offered support by Mukhtar Ansari’s Quami Ekta Dal.
“We are in a dilemma. The first impression is Rai is the real contender to Modi because he has been very active, always there for people. He has a more realistic chance of becoming the rallying point of anti-Modi forces. Kejriwal is the spoiler. However, it cannot be denied that no matter what the ground presence of Aam Aadmi Party, Kejriwal was the first to show the gumption of taking on the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee,” said a source.