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#PollVault: BJP Uses Azhar Listing, Maoist Attack to Ramp Up National Security Campaign

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New Delhi: Two developments on Wednesday helped the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party raise its electoral pitch around national security a great deal.

The Union government scored a diplomatic goal on May 1, as the United Nations Security Council declared Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar to be a ‘global terrorist’. This had been India’s demand ever since the militant group took responsibility for the Pulwama attack on CRPF convoy.

The Maoist attack on security personnel in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra that killed one civilian and 15 policemen was also used by the BJP to whip up sentiment in its favour.

Since the saffron party has more or less abandoned its development plank in favour of a campaign that centres around the Balakot airstrikes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the two Monday incidents to good political effect.

At a Jaipur rally, while calling Azhar’s declaration as a global terrorist a “big victory”, he said, “From now on, whenever the country faces danger of any kind from anybody, we will enter their homes and eliminate them. If they fire bullets at us, we will fire bombs at them.” he said.

A day after the Election Commission of India did not find the prime minister at fault for his Wardha speech, Modi spoke with pronounced impunity. In Uttar Pradesh’s Ambedkar Nagar, very close to Ayodhya, Modi did not invoke the Ram Mandir issue. He, instead, spoke about ushering in a ‘New India’ which “kills by entering enemy territory” or what he calls “ghar mein ghus ke marenge”.

Hum nahi bolte, jawan ki ungli bolti hai (We do not respond, our soldier’s fingers do),” Modi said, as he enacted pulling a trigger with his own fingers. Lashing out at Pakistan for harbouring terrorism, he said that the neighbouring country was only waiting for a “weak government” in India.

He equated a vote for the BJP with a vote against terrorism. “Sainik ki atma jagegi jab aap kamal ki phool par button dabayenge (The soldier’s soul in all of you will rise when you press the lotus button during voting),” he said, while urging people to vote for a “strong” government.

The ECI will soon hear Congress’s multiple complaints against the prime minister for allegedly using national security issues, and especially the armed forces, for electoral gains.

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Congress approached the ECI again with a complaint that the BJP was using government machinery for its electoral campaign.

Scroll.in had reported that collectors of various states were asked by the NITI Aayog to furnish information on their districts to the Prime Minister’s Office. The Congress alleged that Modi was using this information for his electoral campaign.

Opposition leaders criticise BJP’s campaign

Many opposition leaders came down heavily on Modi’s speeches and pointed out that despite BJP’s talk,  terror incidents and Maoist attacks have increased during the current government. As a result, they  pointed out, more soldiers were martyred. They blamed Modi for putting soldiers on the line for political gains.

Similarly, Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot also pointed out to NDTV that BJP was only whipping up emotive issues while entirely neglecting basic issues of the people. He said that rural distress and unemployment were at an all-time high and the BJP only wanted to deflect attention from these issues.

Tej Bahadur Yadav’s nomination cancelled

Meanwhile, the electoral stage in Varanasi for a disgruntled jawan versus the prime minister was only heating up when the ECI cancelled the sacked BSF soldier Tej Bahadur Yadav’s nomination.

Yadav, whose self-shot video showing poor quality of food for jawans in the BSF went viral, was sacked for indiscipline. He had decided to contest against the prime minister as an independent candidate, but later the Bahujan Samaj Party-Samajwadi Party alliance has decided to field him on its own ticket.

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In a decision which is clearly a setback for the mahagathbandhan, the ECI said that Yadav was barred from contesting as he did not submit a certificate from the poll body stating that he had not been dismissed from service due to “corruption or impropriety” on time.

Yadav, however, claimed that his nomination was wrongly rejected, and that he was told about the requirement only at the eleventh hour. “… I had furnished the NOC from BSF that was required by the RO. I was asked to produce the evidence at 6.15 pm yesterday, we produced the evidence, still my nomination was rejected. We will go to the Supreme Court,” Yadav said after cancellation of his nomination.

Pragya Thakur barred from campaigning

The ECI also stopped the controversial BJP candidate from Bhopal, Pragya Singh Thakur, from campaigning for 72 hours.

Thakur, a terror-accused currently out on bail, got reprimanded for her remarks against the slain IPS officer Hemant Karkare. She had said that that Karkare, who had arrested her in the Malegaon blast case and allegedly subjected her to prolonged torture, was killed because of her ‘curse’.

The ECI also condemned her for saying that she had participated in the demolition of the Babri mosque at Ayodhya in 1992 and was “proud” of it.

The poll body also barred Babubhai Rayka, the Gujarat’s Congress chief, from campaigning for 72 hours. He was said to have used “intemperate” language. On Wednesday, in a similar move, the BJP chief Jitu Vaghani was also barred. But the ECI’s move drew a little flak as polls in Gujarat has already ended on April 23.

Haryana chief minister’s controversial claim

Meanwhile, BJP chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar landed himself in a controversy when he said that Congress’s NYAY scheme (proposed income support for farmers) and its policy of loan waivers will make farmers lazy. “Once you get something for free, people tend to get lethargic,” he said, while criticising Congress’s campaign on rural distress.