Friday August 17, 2018
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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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Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Intact

JDU knows that this 15-16% votes is not enough to help the party and for the BJP too, only the 17% votes of upper castes are not sufficient

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Nitish Kumar with Narendra Modi.
Nitish Kumar with Narendra Modi.

By Sagarneel Sinha

There have been lots of discussions among the political circles that JDU led by Bihar Chief
Minister Nitish Kumar is upset with the BJP and trying to send signals to erst allies — RJD and the Congress. This led to speculations that Nitish may once again join the Grand Alliance (GA) leaving the NDA camp. Already, RJD’s new commander Tejasvi Yadav has clearly stated that Nitish led JDU will not be welcomed in the GA. Despite all the odds, if (suppose) GA partners accommodate Nitish, he wouldn’t be the driving force of the alliance as in 2015. Also, Nitish cannot afford to go alone like in 2014 when his party fetched only 2 seats!

Then which is the correct way for JDU? It is to go with the BJP in the upcoming 2019 polls.
JDU’s advantage in this case is the present situation of the BJP. Currently, the saffron party is not in a strong position as the party would be facing anti-incumbency from a strong RJD led alliance in the state. BJP’s traditional voters are the upper castes who account for 17% of the electorate. This votebank is not enough for the party to help to win elections. The main opposition party — RJD still commands over a larger votebank than BJP. RJD is still a dominant force among the Yadavs and the Muslims who account for 31% of the population. It means BJP has to minus the 31% votes and rely on the rest — 69%. Out of these, 16% are the Mahadalits — a large portion of whom generally hail Nitish Kumar as their leader. Also, there are Kurmis, an OBC group consisting of 4% votes — considered as the supporters of JDU. Nitish Kumar himself is also a Kurmi.

Nitish Kumar Invited to Join NDA by Amit Shah After JDU-BJP Tie-up in Bihar
Nitish Kumar Invited to Join NDA by Amit Shah After JDU-BJP Tie-up in Bihar.

JDU knows that this 15-16% votes is not enough to help the party and for the BJP too, only the 17% votes of upper castes are not sufficient. However, if these votebanks are joined together they form around 31-32%. Plus, to gain the extra votes, both the parties have the option to rely on the personal charisma of Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, there is a power tussle between the two allies to get a respectable share of seats.

This power tussle is because of a strong BJP which earlier used to be a junior ally. The 2014 Lok Sabha elections changed the political scenario of the state where BJP emerged as the largest party in terms of vote share and seats. JDU knows the reality of a new emerging BJP, though it is pushing hard to gain a respectable share of seats for the Lok Sabha elections. Instead, Nitish Kumar has another option — giving the bigger chunk to the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections and the latter playing the junior partner for the 2020 assembly elections if held timely. Given the current situation in the country, in a crucial state like Bihar, BJP can hardly reject JDU as the later still commands over 15-16% votes — a very crucial votebank for winning maximum seats in the 2019 polls. Importance of JDU can also be explained by BJP president Amit Shah’s visit to Patna to have breakfast and dinner with Nitish Kumar. Though in politics there are no permanent friends or foes, so any perfect prediction is impossible. But given the current situation, JDU and BJP parting their ways seems unlikely as both the parties are in need of each other as already highlighted by Amit Shah that the two allies would fight the Lok Sabha elections together. Smiling face of Nitish Kumar was also an indication that the meetings with Amit Shah were fine.