A day ahead of the first phase of Assembly elections in Gujarat, posters appealing the Muslims “to vote for Congress to make Ahmed Patel the chief minister” surfaced in parts of Surat on Thursday. The posters erroneously refers to chief minister as “wazir-e-alam (sic)” instead of “wazir-e-aala’’.
In a quick clarification, Ahmed Patel, political secretary of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, tweeted that the posters were “fake” and part of “misinformation campaign of BJP’’. He said: “I have never ever been a candidate for CM and will never, ever be.”
The BJP, on the other hand, said Ahmed Patel’s allegations were “false”.
Several posters having photographs of Ahmed Patel with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi were found in the morning in Muslim-majority localities of Surat, appealing the minority community to vote for the Congress candidates so that Ahmed Patel can become “wazir-e-alam of Gujarat”.
The appeal in Gujarati reads, “Muslim ekta maate ane Ahmedbhai Patel ne Gujarat na wazir-e-alam banav-va maate Muslim samaj faqat Congress party ne ja vote aape (To ensure Muslim unity and make Ahmed Patel the chief minister of Gujarat, the Muslims must vote for the Congress only).” The poster also carries the slogan “Congress aave chhe (Congress is coming to power)” — coined by the party in the run-up to the Gujarat Assembly elections.
Ahmed Patel took to Twitter to clarify his stand. In a tweet, the Rajya Sabha MP said: “Putting up fake posters and orchestrating a rumour campaign shows the utter desperation of the BJP. Fearing defeat, do they have to rely on such dirty tricks? I have never ever been a candidate for CM and will never, ever be.”
In another tweet, he stated: “The moot issue is that BJP is trying very very hard to divert the narrative from its performance of last 22 years to a divisive agenda. Hence their reliance on lies & propaganda.But people of Gujarat have made up their mind this time.”
While state Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi called appearance of the posters as “a mischief of the BJP”, Shahnawaz Sheikh, a councillor in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, noted that a chief minister in Urdu is referred as “wazi-e-aala’’ and not “wazir-e-alam’’, as mentioned in the poster.
BJP spokersperson Harshad Patel rubbished Congress’s allegations, saying, “It is a false allegation against the BJP. The BJP has nothing to do with the posters.”