Two days before the Assembly elections in Surat, posters asking Muslims in Gujarat to vote for Congress leader Ahmed Patel to make him chief minister were seen across the city, IANS reported.
The first of the two-phase elections in the state is on Saturday.
The posters have a photo of Patel with Rahul Gandhi and the Congress poll symbol, with an appeal to the Muslim community in Gujarati. “To maintain unity within the Muslim community and to make Ahmed Patel the ‘wazir-e-alam’ [grand minister] of Gujarat, we request the Muslim community to vote only for the Congress,” the poster reads.
Patel, a Rajya Sabha MP and an aide of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, said he and his party had nothing to do with the posters and blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party for polarising the elections.
“The moot issue is that the BJP is trying very, very hard to divert the narrative from its performance of last 22 years to a divisive agenda,” Patel said on Twitter. “Hence, their reliance on lies and propaganda. But the people of Gujarat have made up their mind this time.”
In a series of tweets, Patel blamed the BJP for “putting up fake posters” that, he said, showed the “utter desperation” of the party. “I have never, ever been a candidate for the CM and will never, ever be,” he said.
Gujarat Congress Spokesperson Manish Doshi called the posters “a mischief of the BJP”, according to The Indian Express. Shahnawaz Sheikh, a councillor in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, said the posters incorrectly called chief minister in Urdu as wazir-e-alam, while it should be wazi-e-aala.
BJP Spokersperson Harshad Patel rubbished the allegations made by the Congress. “It is a false allegation against the BJP,” he told The Indian Express. “The BJP has nothing to do with the posters.”