As the Sunnis cannot deny the authenticity of the Hadeeth of Ghadeer, they try to water down its significance by saying that the word Mawla in that Hadeeth means Friend and that The Holy Prophet wanted to announce that, Anybody whose friend am I, this Ali is his friend.
The trouble is that not a single person who was present at Ghadeer did understand this alleged meaning. Hassaan bin Thabit Ansari (the famous poet of The Holy Prophet) composed, then and there, a poem and recited before the audience, in which he says:
"Then said The Holy Prophet to him, Stand up, O Ali, because I am pleased to make you Imam and Guide after me."
Umar bin Khattab congratulated Ali in these words: "Congratulations, O son of Abu Taleb, You became Mawla of all believers, men and women."
Vide Mishkatul Masabih. Habibusseyar, Tafseer of Tabari, books of Shaibani, Abu Shaiba, Abu Ya'ala, Ibn Uqda and many others.
If Mawla means friend then why this congratulations? And was Ali an 'enemy' of all believer men and women before that time, so that Umar said that 'this morning' you became friend of them all?
Imam Ali himself wrote to Moawiya:
"And the Messenger of Allah made over to me his authority upon you on the day of Ghadeer Al-Khum."
And there are many other Companions of The Holy Prophet who used in their poems the word Mawla in connection of Ghadeer Al-Khum in the sense of Master.
And countless scholars of Qur'an, Arabic grammer and literature, have interpreted Mawla as Awla (having more authority). The names of following may be quoted as an example:
Ibn Abbas, Kalbi, Farra, Abu Ubaida, Akhfash, Imam Bukhari in his Sahih (Vol. 7, p. 240), Ibn Qutaiba, Shaibani, Tabari, and Wahidi, etc.
Thalabi, Zamakhshari, Baidhawi, Nasafi, Khazin Baghdadi and Muhibbuddin Afandi, etc.