Sonia-Imam meeting: 'Secular' Congress playing communal cards?

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Sonia-Imam meeting: Congress playing communal cards
New Delhi, April 4: The Congress president Sonia Gandhi's recent meeting with Muslim leader Imam Bukhari in New Delhi has raised doubts over whether the grand old party is playing communal cards.

Sonia met Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari on Thursday and appealed that Muslims should not let their votes split in Lok Sabha elections. On Friday, the Imam declared his support from Congress.

Many opponents of Congress like BJP and Shiv Sena have condemned Gandhi's visit and the Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath on Thursday said that the EC will take congnisance if it receives complaint in this regard. 

BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi tweeted, "Congress President's recent appeal on religious lines is shocking! Such divisive politics is against laws of our land. EC must take action".  Addressing a rally in Uttar Pradesh, Modi said, "They were troubled as there is no smell of communalism in what Modi is saying....They don't know how to deal with me. Sensing defeat, they have dropped the slogan of secularism and started rabid communalism. The Congress leader has started speaking the language of rabid communalism," he said

Going by the findings of several opinion polls, the grand old party's popularity level is on an all-time low. The survey findings say that the party might suffer heavy defeat in most of the states. However Congress leaders have refuted the allegations that the party is playing communal cards to avoid the defeat.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley slammed Sonia's meeting with the religious leader and said, "The Congress is staring at defeat in the Lok Sabha elections and is raising the issue of communalism. It will backfire and will land the Congress in trouble."

Congress leader Anand Sharma on Thursday said leaders are free to meet religious leaders in a secular and diverse country like India. "We are a secular, diverse country and to be secular does not mean we are atheists. The leaders of Congress and other parties are free to meet Shankaracharya, saints, imams and dharma gurus. It does not mean doing communal politics. Hindu religion is not something given to RSS on contract," he said.

Sonia defended her meeting saying, "We are not in the game or business of polarisation (of votes). Meeting clerics has been a tradition followed by Feroze Gandhi and Indira Gandhi." 

"During the meeting, issues like innocent Muslim youths being arrested in terror cases, reservation in education, communal riots and security, implementation of Sachar Committee and Ranganath Misra Commission recommendations and anti-communal violence bill were discussed," Jama Masjid spokesperson Rahat Mehmood Chaudhary said.

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