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EC bars two BJP newspaper ads after Grand Alliance’s complaint

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New Delhi: The Congress and Janata Dal-United, who are a part of Grand Alliance in Bihar, and the BJP on Friday approached the Election Commission accusing each other of disturbing the communal harmony in the state during the ongoing five-phased assembly polls.

The former alleged that the BJP was “promoting lies, false propaganda and communal tension” through advertisements in the ongoing Bihar elections.

Meanwhile, acting on the Grand Alliance’s complaint, the poll panel on Friday barred two newspaper advertisements of the BJP.

“In the ongoing Bihar elections, the BJP has been promoting lies, false propaganda, and communal tension through advertisements. This has vitiated the electoral process by promoting communal tension,” said a memorandum submitted to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi by Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala and Ajoy Kumar and JD-U’s K.C. Tyagi.

To buttress the claim, the memorandum included texts of some of the advertisements.

“As you will see from these ads, it is a shameless attempt at spreading false propaganda and creating communal tension by the use and misuse of select words in ambiguous contexts, that could be interpreted by multiple factions for inciting violence between communities,” said the memorandum.

Giving examples, the memorandum said: “An ad states that the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal-United, and Congress leaders are giving sanctuary to terrorists to appease a particular community for votes. The name of the particular community becomes clear when seen in the context of a previous advertisement that spoke about the Muslim community’s appeasement by the RJD, JD-U and Congress by robbing the plate of Dalits.”

“The advertisement further alleges Bihar government’s role in the delayed arrest of (Indian Mujahideen’s alleged terrorist) Yasin Bhatkal from the Nepal border. It questions if the delay was to allow a national traitor to escape or to make a particular community feel the government’s benevolence. The connection between letting Bhatkal escape and a community is done only to connect Bhatkal with the Muslim community,” the memorandum added.

“The advertisement alleges that due to the negligence of JD-U leaders, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) terrorists are thriving in Bihar. The usage of the word thriving again may be called innocuous, but reeks of an intentional ambiguity to label all minority population of Bihar as being those of LeT and ISI allegiance,” it added.

Meanwhile, the BJP on Friday knocked on the doors of the Election Commission blaming the JD(U)-RJD-Congress of making attempts to disturb communal harmony in Bihar during the ongoing five-phased assembly polls.

The memorandum blamed Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, Janata Dal-United’s Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Lalu Prasad for flaring up communal sentiments in the state.

“The RJD-JD(U)-Congress are trying to disturb communal harmony in Bihar Assembly elections for last several days,” a memorandum submitted to the Election Commission by BJP said.

The memorandum was signed by union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, BJP General Secretary Arun Singh, Sudhanshu Trivedi, Sambit Patra and Siddharth Nath Singh.

The letter quoted Rahul Gandhi saying in an election rally: “The BJP wants to get votes by making Hindu and Muslims fight each other.”

It also blamed RJD chief Lalu Prasad, and JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

“Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar have been making provocative and personal statements against the BJP leaders to communally polarize the situation in Bihar,” it said.

BJP also took on Lalu Prasad for calling BJP president Amit Shah a “man-eater”.

“Statements of Lalu Yadav against Amit Shah that “man-eater has become mad”, calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi “brahma-pishach” are highly condemnable and such statements violate election code of conduct and provisions of the Representation of the People Act,” the BJP said.

“These statements are a conspiracy to disturb communal harmony in the state.”

The BJP urged the Election Commission to ensure free and fair elections in Bihar and monitor the conspiracy of the RJD-JD(U)-Congress behind such statements.

“The Election Commission should take strict action against such statements,” it added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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What Would Be The Outcome Of The Judgement On Homosexuality With BJP At The Centre?

If parties like the BJP and "cultural" organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation.

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Flag Of BJP, homosexuality
Ruling on gays: Is the BJP out of sync with modern realities? Flickr

More than the social impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment on homosexuality, what will be of concern to the ruling party at the Centre is its political fallout. Hence, the eloquent silence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the subject.

For the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), any expansion of the concept of civil liberties is fraught with danger to their restrictive worldviews since a widening of human rights carries the prospect of greater individualism.

If the rights of the homosexuals to live without legal constraints are conceded, it can only encourage the people to free themselves of other restrictions as well such as on choosing live-in partners (of whatever sex) and eating, dressing and speaking as they please.

Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

It is noteworthy that the verdict on gays has come close on the heels of the judgment which described the right to dissent as a “safety valve” which the government can only shut off at its peril lest there is an explosion.

Moreover, the court had also upheld not long ago the right to privacy which the government described as an “elitist” concept.

For the Hindu Right, as also for other religious fundamentalists, this dalliance with civil rights — the freedom to criticise the government, the exaltation of privacy and now the decriminalisation of homosexuality — entails a push towards liberalism and modernism which are anathema to any group which wants the society to be bound by shackles of orthodoxy and obscurantism.

It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.

Now that one of them is gone, there is little doubt that these closet followers of Britain’s 19th century politician Lord Macaulay — even as they decry the secular groups as “Macaulay’s children” — will hold on resolutely to the law on sedition as their only safeguard against the “anti-nationals” who, they believe, stalk the land.

Homosexuality
It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.
Wikimedia Commons

It is also possible that the saffronites will keep a hawk’s eye on any social problems that may arise because of the assertion of gay rights. As the BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has said, with eager anticipation, if a five-judge bench can overturn an earlier judgment in favour of criminalising homosexuality, a larger bench can undo the present verdict if gay bars begin to flourish and there is a rise in the cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections.

Interestingly, what these judgments underline is how the judiciary is more attuned to the changing world than the elected representatives of the hoi polloi who often argue in favour of giving greater primacy to the legislature than the judiciary since they claim to represent the people while the judges are unelected denizens of an ivory tower.

However, one possible reason why MPs and MLAs, especially of the BJP, seem to be out of sync with the present-day world is the presence in their midst of a large number of criminal elements who can hardly be regarded as the most progressive sections of society.

For instance, of the 543 elected members of the Lok Sabha, of whom 186 have a criminal record, 63 belong to the BJP, followed by eight of the Shiv Sena, four of the Trinamool Congress and three each of the Congress and the AIADMK.

Homosexuality
Gay Pride Procession. Pixabay

What the Supreme Court judgment appears to have done is to persuade parties like the Congress, which usually hedges its bets lest it should fall on the wrong side of public opinion, to come out in the verdict’s favour, presumably because it senses that this judgment, more than any other, has become a touchstone in the matter of breaking out from the stranglehold of the past.

To distance a party from it, as the BJP is doing, will amount to virtually alienating the entire youth community. Even if a majority among them do not have homosexual instincts — according to official figures, there are 2.5 million gay people in India, but this may be an underestimate since, till now, it was unsafe for them to reveal their sexual orientation — the youths nevertheless see the ruling as an assertion of living life on one’s own terms and not be held hostage by the dictates of a society steeped in conservatism and of political parties which believe that their agenda can only advanced if the country is made forcibly to conform to khap panchayat-style social and cultural norms.

Also Read: Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Instant

To these youths, being or not being aware of homosexuality is of little consequence. What matters to them is to be able to make up their own minds and not be told by elders to abide by certain rules which are regarded as outdated by the younger generation.

If parties like the BJP and “cultural” organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation. (IANS)