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Intolerance campaign to derail Modi govt’s development agenda: BJP


New Delhi: On a day when 24 filmmakers and writers – including Arundhati Roy, Saeed Mirza and Kundan Shah – announced the return of their national awards, the BJP blamed the Congress and CPI-M for “misleading the country on the issue of rising intolerance”, alleging that the entire effort was to derail Modi government’s developmental agenda.

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah released a book titled ‘Ideological Difference’ to counter the debate on intolerance and highlight the party’s viewpoint on the current situation.

“The book’s purpose is to highlight the other side of the story. Only one side of the story was highlighted so far. Now the truth is coming out. We want the general public of India to know the other view also through this book,” senior BJP leader and union minister Venkaiah Naidu told media persons here.

“Wrong information was given. Through this book, we are releasing facts of what happened earlier and (what is happening) now,” he said.

The entire effort is to derail the developmental agenda of the Narendra Modi government. We have a vested interest in peace because without peace there is no progress.

“Political intolerance is the trait of the Congress party. We have seen what respect they give to their party president. They did not allow the body of a late party president to enter the party office. Sita Ram Kesri was physically moved from the chair and removed. Under Communist Party of India-Marxist’s philosophy, intolerance towards the opponents is known to all. Why the so-called intellectuals did not raise their voices earlier and why are they doing it now,” he asked.

Naidu said that for 60 years, the Congress and its dependents were in power at the Centre and states. “They have an octopus-like presence in most academic and cultural institutions. The left intellectuals had a field day since they were the beneficiaries of the patronisation of the Congress party,” the union minister said.

“In 1969, a split in the Congress occurred and the communist party lent them a helping hand. There was a quid pro quo understanding between the two. All academic institutions in the country were handed over to the Left party. The impact of the Communist Party in the country has declined since then, but their influence over the institutions has increased,” he added.

“The political presence of the Communist Party since then has become minuscule. The entire strength of the Left political parties in India is not even four percent,” Naidu said.

“Some people have made an issue out of the unfortunate events that have happened in some states. The entire effort is to derail the developmental agenda of the Narendra Modi government. We have a vested interest in peace because without peace there is no progress. Time and again, our prime minister has said that his agenda is development,” he added.

(With inputs from IANS)

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

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“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

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The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

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Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

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Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)