Congress on Tuesday hit out at Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind leader Mahmood Madani for his remarks that the party should not try to attract Muslim votes by creating fear about somebody a reference to Narendra Modi. It questioned the reason for his sudden love for the Gujarat Chief Minister. Madanis comment created a political row as BJP used it to target Congress accusing it of being communal.
Congress fielded Meem Afzal to take on Madani. Afzal said Mahmood Madani had in the past praised Congresss secular outlook. If he has any misunderstanding about Congress now,we can clear it, he said. Afzal sought to know the reason for Madanis sudden Modi prem (love) and argued the party never indulged in personality politics. Our politics is about policies and programmes.
As far as the fear about Modi among the Muslims,he said we have not created any fear. It has been there for long. It has a history of its own.
Although Mahmood Madanis statement intrigued Congress,many party leaders linked it with the forthcoming general election,terming it as an attempt by the prominent cleric to remain relevant.
Although he may be reflecting the frustration of several Muslim leaders with Modi being picked as the PM candidate by the BJP,there is a sub-text. Mahmood Madani has been engaged in a bitter turf war with his uncle Arshad Madani for the control of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind,the largest,oldest and the most respected organisation of aalims/imams in India.
Arshad Madani is seen as close to the Congress leadership.
Like several other Deobandi leaders,Mahmood Madani also doesnt like the fact that top Congress leaders over the past two years are patronising the rival Barelvi group,especially in Rajasthan.
Mahmood Madani stuck to his statement Tuesday telling reporters that the so-called secular parties should not seek votes in a negative manner but carry out a positive campaign by speaking about their agenda and spelling out the promises they have fulfilled and promises that remain unfulfilled.
These so-called secular parties should explain what their governments in different states have done. What promises they have fulfilled and which ones still remain. They should seek votes on this basis and not on the basis of fear of somebody else (coming to power)…. Do not try to gain our votes in a negative way by showing the fear of a particular individual. Muslims wont be deterred by that, he said.
On Modi,he said it was a totally different issue. What was Modis agenda and on the basis of what he won the Gujarat election? Media has been observing a change in his approach during the run-up to the general elections. I wont say about him now. My focus is solely on secular parties way of gaining Muslim votes.
BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said,It is now clear as to how Congress has been exploiting people for votes. It has been scaring the voters to get their votes. But people have gradually realised this.
Congress is the most communal party. No party is any more communal than Congress, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman alleged.
Addressing a convention in Jaipur Monday,Madani had also attacked the Congress government in Rajasthan and the SP government in UP for failing to protect minorities.