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Published in the 1-15 June 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Face of parivar haunts BJP

Qutabuddin AnsariNew Delhi: Biharsharif, a Muslim-dominated segment of Nalanda, was JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar's catchment area. Thanks to the posters of Qutabuddin Ansari, better known as the face of post-Godhra riots, all over the town, his efforts to woo Muslims have fallen flat. It was a similar story in Chapra - the combat zone of Laloo Prasad Yadav and BJP's Rajiv Pratap Rudy. 

Despite Laloo's presence, the Muslim voters here had taken note of Rudy's painstaking attempt to reach out to them, and in some segments, the response to BJP was warmer than lukewarm. 

But after seeing the Ansari poster a day before polling, Gujarat riots are said to have become a matter of discussion once again in the community. 

Having seen the wonders the poster can do, Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has also decided to try it out.

But unlike the RJD, which is using it against the BJP in Bihar, he wants to use this vote-turning poster against the Congress, which for the first time since the Ramjanmabhoomi campaign, seems to be threatening to loosen SP's lock on the Muslim vote in UP. 

With the face of Ansari, he plans to pose some questions to the Congress. Why did the Congress, which claims to be the mascot of secular politics, fail to stop such atrocities on Muslims, is one of them. 

Not stopping at that, Mulayam has another plan. The SP plans to bring out a poster, where each finger in the palm of the Congress symbol will represent a state that Congress lost. 

Party sources said the aim is to prove that Congress does not have the wherewithal to lead a secular front, and contrast it with the SP's headway in forming a government in UP. 

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