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HindustanTimes Sun,14 Sep 2014

Imran Masood: vote-winner for Congress?

S Raju, Hindustan Times  Saharanpur, March 30, 2014
First Published: 22:55 IST(30/3/2014) | Last Updated: 21:02 IST(31/3/2014)

The controversy that broke out after a video clip of Imran Masood’s hate speech against Narendra Modi went viral, might prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Congress. Partyworkers claim that after his jail sentence, the Congress candidate from Saharanpur is being perceived as a champion of the minority community and the Congress is hopeful of attracting minority, secular and sympathy votes and giving a jolt to rival Samajwadi Party (SP).
 
What is more, the fact that the controversial speech was made when Masood was in the SP ranks helps the Congress gain the desired mileage without sullying the party image.

Masood recently joined the Congress after the SP denied him the ticket from Saharanpur.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Saharanpur on Saturday, after pronouncement of judicial custody to Masood, has infused fresh vigour into the party. Partyworkers are now going all out to attract voters, especially Muslims into the party fold.

The presence of Masood’s wife Saeema and children on the dais with Gandhi and her appeal to people to support her jailed husband might also pick up some sympathy votes.

Party leaders like Saad Siddiqui believe that people, Muslims voters of the SP in particular, are more favourably disposed towards the Congress now.

“Rahulji’s visit has changed the entire atmosphere of election in the constituency. It is now Congress vs BJP and the former would be benefited with secular votes of all parties along with minority and sympathy votes,” said Siddiqui, national coordinator of the party’s minority department.

Saad claims that some SP heavyweights might join the Congress in the coming days. “We are in constant touch with those who are willing to join the Congress,” he said.

Ex-MP Mansoor Ali Khan declared that he was quitting SP to join to Congress in the presence of Rahul Gandhi, while SP’s local unit treasurer Feroj Bakht arrived at the Deoband court to show his solidarity with Masood.


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