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BJP cashing in on CD controversy
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | April 09, 2007 12:14 IST
Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh is all set to court arrest in Lucknow on Monday with the obvious intent of reaping a political harvest out of the controversy over a CD with communal content, which was released as part of the party's poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh.
The CD, though initially disowned by the BJP leadership, is being used as 'potent' fuel by the party to seek political mileage in the state, where a seven-phased assembly election is currently underway.
Rajnath is in Lucknow along with party stalwart L K Advani and two former party presidents Murli Manohar Joshi and Venkaiah Naidu besides prominent party leader Sushma Swaraj.
Rajnath's assertion that he would not seek bail against his arrest seems to have put the Mulayam Singh Yadav government and the Election Commission in a tight corner.
Both the local administration and EC had filed two separate police complaints in the CD case. While the Lucknow district administration's complaint does not name anyone, the election commission had pointedly accused Rajnath and state party veteran Lalji Tandon, who released the CD as part of the campaign process. Tandon later refuted the charge.
While party bigwigs were staging the big drama in Lucknow, prominent BJP leader and leading Supreme Court lawyer Arun Jaitley simultaneously appeared before the election commission in New Delhi to plead that the party or its leaders were 'not guilty.'
The complaint about the CD containing material aimed at spreading communal hatred was made by former prime minister V P Singh, who would be making a personal appearance before the commission later in the day.
Meanwhile, Rajnath's gameplan is simple -- to aim at polarisation of the Hindu vote in favour of the BJP by labelling both the Congress-led Union government and the Mulayam government in Uttar Pradesh as 'anti-Hindu.'
Monday's newspapers in the state carried prominently-placed advertisements with Rajnath calling out, "Rashtrivadiyon ko jail; aatankvadiyon se mel -- ab to hadd ho gayee! (Nationalists are being sent to jail while terrorists are being patronised -- now this is the limit).
Apparently caught on a wrong foot, the state administration is doing its best to disallow BJP from succeeding in its game. UP Principal Home Secretary Chandra Mauli told rediff.com, "Merely lodging a complaint does not automatically lead to arrest."
"Arrest can follow only after the local police has made its preliminary findings confirming the involvement of persons named in the complaint; but that process was still being carried out," he said.
On what prompted the district administration to lodge the complaint well before the EC issued directives on the matter, Lucknow district magistrate Ramendra Tripathi said, "We decided to register the case after taking suo motto cognizance of the CD shown by a private television channel and publication of its contents by a number of local newspapers."
"We had not named anyone in the complaint as the initial part was to make preliminary findings before holding 'x' or 'y' responsible for the offence," he added.