A day before Varanasi goes to polls, a clerics' body here extended support to AAP candidate Arvind Kejriwal, who is pitted against BJP's Narendra Modi and Ajay Rai of Congress.
After a meeting here today, the Mufti Board of Varanasi said in a statement that it has decided to support Kejriwal for this Lok Sabha election in Varanasi, where Muslims account for about 18 per cent of total electorate of close to 16 lakh.
"In today's meeting it was decided that votes should be cast on broom election symbol to ensure victory of Arvind Kejriwal in this election," the Mufti Board Benaras said in a statement. Mufti Board Benaras Secretary Maulana Haseem Ahmad Habibi, also Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Badshahbagh, said that Kejriwal was an "honest man and therefore we have decided to support him".Another local strongman Mukhtar Ansari has backed Congress candidate Ajay 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 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".