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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Cong's Masood in LS  race post hate speech

Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times  Saharanpur/Behat/Deoband, April 02, 2014
First Published: 16:54 IST(2/4/2014) | Last Updated: 02:18 IST(3/4/2014)

His predominantly Muslim audience cheered as soon as Noman Masood pitched his twin brother and Congress candidate from Saharanpur, Imran Masood against BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

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“Our rival is Modi only. He has to be stopped and for that there is an urgent need to stand behind Imran,” Noman said at a road show in the outskirts of the city.
Imran made headlines after a video, in which he allegedly threatened to chop Modi to pieces, went viral.

Read:
To hate or not to hate: When politics turns ugly

He also allegedly denigrated scheduled castes, following which he was slapped with multiple charges of provoking religious and caste sentiments.

Imran was given bail on Wednesday as the prosecution accepted that the video was of September last year when the code of conduct was not in effect. Imran’s lawyer claimed the voice in the video was not his client’s.

But many in the audience conceded that Imran’s jail term has done wonders for his campaign. “He seems to be little ahead in the race to garner Muslim votes here,” said Mohammad Imran in Mulla Nagrajpur where Noman Masood completed his road show.

Read:
Iqbal Masood controversy: Will it make the Cong a champion in the eyes of the Muslim voter?

The perceived edge has made his rivals — Samajwadi Party’s Shajan Masood, his cousin and son of former Union minister Rasheed Masood and BJP’s Raghav Lakhanpal Sharma —allege that the video was released by Imran himself.

Sharma, 37, banking on the ‘Modi wave’, said: “Imran’s divisive politics may lead to polarisation of votes.” He is a sitting MLA from Saharanpur City.

BJP is the main rival of both Congress and SP in the constituency where Muslims are 42% of the electorate.  “Muslims will not listen to Imran as they know only the SP can stop the BJP in Uttar Pradesh,” Shajan said.

Read:
Embarrassment for Cong as Saharanpur contender goes to jail


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