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Varanasi's top clerics appeal Muslims to vote for Arvind Kejriwal
Sunday May 11, 2014 11:10 PM, & Agencies

A day before election in Varanasi, top clerics of the city Sunday followed the appeals issued by other Muslim groups and leaders, and extended total support to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Arvind Kejriwal.

Kejriwal Varanasi

In a written appeal, the Mufti Board of Varanasi asked voters to press the button against the symbol of Kejriwal's party, the broom, and defeat Narendra Modi.

After a meeting today, the board said in a statement, "Votes should be cast on broom election symbol to ensure victory of Arvind Kejriwal in this election."

Mufti Board Benaras Secretary Maulana Haseem Ahmad Habibi and the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Badshahbagh said, "Kejriwal is an honest man and therefore we have decided to support him".

A week ago, Jamat-e-Islami Hind too had appealed Muslims to vote for AAP's Arvind Kejriwal. While announcing the decision, the Jamaat had said the decision, taken by its Uttar Pradesh unit, had won the backing of the group's all-India president, Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari.

Kejriwal is contesting against BJP's Narendra Modi and Ajay Rai of Congress in Varanasi where Muslims account for about 22 per cent of total electorate of close to 16 lakh.

Mukhtar Ansari, the jailed mafia don who heads the Qaumi Ekta Manch, has backed Mr Rai in this election.

Separately, Shahar-e-Mufti Maulana Abdul Batin told media that the Muslims should ensure that there was no division of votes and the communal forces are defeated.

Batin, an influential leader, also said that Kejriwal appeared in better position to challenge Mr Modi. He, however, refused to directly endorse any of the candidates.

When asked about such "appeals" by religious leaders, Special Election Observer Praveen Kumar said, "The issue needs to be examined and we will look into the statements".

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