#PollVault: BJP Ramps Up Communal Campaign, Congress-AAP Finally Go Separate Ways

A repository of the day's major election-related developments.

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party leadership continues to ramp up a communal campaign.

A day after the Dadri lynch case accused were spotted sitting in the front row of a BJP rally addressed by UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath in Dadri’s Bishahra village, Narendra Modi accused the Congress of portraying the “peace-loving” Hindu society as “terrorists” in front of the world.

Taking a swipe at Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from a second seat (Kerala’s Wayanad), Modi at a rally in Wardha said, “The Congress insulted Hindus. People have decided to punish it in the election. Leaders of that party are now scared of contesting from constituencies dominated by majority (Hindu) population.”

“Is there a single incident in the history of thousands of years of Hindus engaging in terrorism?” the prime minister asked.

Since a special National Investigative Agency court last week acquitted Swami Aseemanand and others accused of conspiracy in the Samjhauta Express blasts, the BJP top brass has harped on how Hindu society will never forgive the Congress for leveraging the slogan of “Hindu terror” to get votes.

Adding yet another communal campaign strand, Adityanath at Sunday’s Bishahra rally said, “How shamelessly the Samajwadi government suppressed the emotions of the villagers. I can proudly say that after BJP formed government in UP, we immediately ordered the shutdown of all illegal slaughterhouses in the state.”

NDA nominee Thusar Vellappally to fight Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad

Wayanad is all set for a three-cornered fight between Rahul Gandhi, P.P. Suneer of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and BJP nominee Thusar Vellappally, a leader of the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena.

“A vibrant and dynamic youth leader, he represents our commitment towards development and social justice,” tweeted Amit Shah. “With him, NDA will emerge as Kerala’s political alternative.”

In December 2015, Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, a social organisation representing the backward Ezhava community, launched Bharat Dharma Jana Sena – a new political party. “The aim of the party is not to make a Hindu rashtra. This is a secular party,” SNDP general secretary Vellapally Natesan, the father of Thusar Vellappally, said at the launch of the new outfit.

The decision to field Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad has injected fresh confusion into opposition ranks. Making his displeasure clear, Kerala’s CPI(M) chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan yesterday said the party is not treating Gandhi’s fight from Wayanad as merely symbolic.

Far from projecting a watertight anti-BJP front, the opposition camp stands split into more ways than one. State and national level pulls and tensions have taken sway over politics of conviction.

It’s official: Kejriwal-Rahul go separate ways

Meanwhile, ending months of back and forth on the possibility of an AAP-Congress alliance, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday told reporters at the Vishakhapatnam airport that the final word has been spoken. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has rejected a tie-up with AAP. “We have met Rahul Gandhi. Dikshit (Sheila) is not that important a leader,” Kejriwal said.

Also read: Why Nishad Party Broke Off Its Alliance With Samajwadi Party in UP

The split in anti-BJP votes is going to dampen chances of what could possibly have been a clean Congress-AAP sweep of Delhi’s seven parliament seats. The  alliance talk was fuelled by the fact that Congress and AAP had jointly polled more votes than the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Boosted by a fractured opposition, the BJP finally ended up bagging all seven seats.

Opposition-EC continue to squabble over VVPAT

The EVM-VVPAT spat is showing no signs of dying down. On Monday, the Supreme Court responded to a petition sponsored by 21 opposition parties, urging that 50% EVM results should be matched and cross-checked by Voter Verifiable paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). The court has asked the opposition to file their reply within a week.

Also read: Petition in Sikkim HC Wants EC to Ensure Elections Are Held as Per the Constitution

In its affidavit to the court, the Election Commission stated the Lok Sabha Election results would be delayed by six whole days if the opposition’s demand for cross checking was to be met.

The next hearing in the matter will be on April 8.

Congress plays prank, furnishing spoof BJP manifesto on April 1

Bringing some relief into the ongoing acidic poll campaign, Congress on April Fool’s Day put out a spoof manifesto titled “Ek Bharat, Berozgaar Bharat (One India, Jobless India)” – “chowkidar chor hai (the watchman is a thief)”. Poking fun at the Modi government and its all promises, the spoof manifesto inverted the BJP’s lotus symbol and changed the party’s name to “Bharatiya Jumla Party”.

Congress mocked the Modi government’s five-year tenure, saying the regime gave India its first WhatsApp University, its first ‘blog minister Arun Jaitley’ and a ‘rename sarkar’.

Meanwhile, Hardik Patel knocks on apex court’s door

With three days left for filing nominations in Gujarat, Congress leader Hardik Patel, keen to contest from Jamnagar,  petitioned the Supreme Court on Monday, challenging  the Gujarat high court order refusing to stay Patel’s conviction in the 2015 Mehsana rioting case.