#PollVault: Modi's Attack on Rajiv Condemned; Pragya Campaigns Despite EC Ban

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

Every morning till the elections, The Wire’s reporters and editors bring you Poll Vault – a summary of the most important political developments, all in one place. To get it straight in your mailbox, sign up here.

New Delhi: On Sunday afternoon, Rahul Gandhi tweeted a surprising message:

Gandhi didn’t say what exactly he was talking about but his tweet had one clue: His father, Rajiv Gandhi.

A day earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a speech in Uttar Pradesh and didn’t fail to deliver what is now a pattern of cheap shots and low blows.  In that speech, he referred to Rahul Gandhi and said, “Your father was termed ‘Mr Clean’ by his courtiers, but his life ended as ”Bhrashtachari No 1” (corrupt number 1).”

Rahul’s father, Rajiv Gandhi, was the prime minister of India between 1984 and 1989. He was publicly assassinated in 1991, while campaigning for a Congress candidate. Later investigations said that it was an attack by the LTTE from Sri Lanka, due to Rajiv Gandhi’s decision to send Indian peacekeeping forces to the country during the civil war. Sonia Gandhi later sought clemency for the convicts.

Modi was possibly referring to the Bofors controversy in the 1980s, in which Swedish defence manufacturer Bofors was alleged to have paid kickbacks to Rajiv Gandhi for the sale of defence equipment to India.

Last year, Rahul had given Modi an unexpected hug inside the parliament.

Former Congress minister P. Chidambaram also tweeted his disgust at Modi’s comments, saying, “Does Mr Modi read anything at all? Does he know that the charge against Mr Rajiv Gandhi was thrown out by the High Court, Delhi as completely baseless? Does Mr Modi know that a BJP government decided not to file an appeal to the SC against the HC judgment?”

Opposition party leader Akhilesh Yadav, although not allying with the Congress in UP, also tweeted his disagreement with Modi’s comment.

Modi addressed a rally in UP on Sunday where he said his government would bring in a law against triple talaq, for “Muslim sisters.” He said Congress and others “are forcing the sisters to live in the fear of triple talaq. They are trying to stall the triple talaq bill.” He also spoke about how his government managed to get Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist.

On corruption, apart from the comments against Rajiv on Saturday, Modi praised himself at the rally: “I am a living example in front of you. I have been CM for a long time. Is there any blot on my image? Does anyone talk about the property? Does anyone talk about my farmhouse, any bungalow abroad? Have you heard I did anything for my family?”

Pragya Thakur still doesn’t care

Pragya Singh Thakur, the terror-accused BJP candidate from Bhopal, was recently barred by the Election Commission from campaigning for three days. This was over her strange comments about having cursed Hemant Karkare to death and about her celebration of the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

However, none of this fazed Thakur, who decided that she would flout the EC’s notice to her anyway, and continue to campaign on Sunday.

Also read: In Rajasthan, BJP Rides on Past Victories as Congress Experiments

Now the EC has sent her yet another notice, asking her for an explanation of why she is campaigning despite being disallowed by the EC. She reportedly told the EC in her reply, “Main ek sanyasi hoon. Mandir, puja paath, aadhyatm, rashtra kalyan aur gau mata mere jivan ke aadhar hai… mujhe inse rokne wale apne jivan ke bare me sochen (I am a seer and temples, prayers and spirituality are an integral part of my life. Those preventing me from these should care for their own lives).”

Last month, Thakur said in a TV interview: “Ram Mandir hum banayenge, evam bhavya banayenge. Hum todne gaye the dhancha, maine chadh kar toda tha dhancha iss par mujhe garv hai. Mujhe Ishwar ne shakti di thi humne desh ka kalank mitaya hai (We will build Ram temple and build a grand one. We had gone to demolish the structure, I am proud that I climbed the structure and demolished it. God gave me power and we removed a blot on the nation).”

Kejriwal says the attack on him is actually an attack on Delhi

If one thought Modi made critiques of his government seem like a national threat, meet Arvind Kejriwal.

Yesterday, Kejriwal was suddenly slapped by a man who climbed on to the bonnet of Kejriwal’s jeep during an election road show.

On Sunday, the Indian media reported Kejriwal as saying that the attack indicated that the BJP was trying to finish off the Aam Aadmi Party.

Also read: BJP Leader’s Killing in J&K Highlights Constant Threat to Political Workers

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself should resign after such an incident. The BJP and Narendra Modi are responsible for this incident, not the police,” said Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Kejriwal has been attacked in similar ways, at least nine times in the last five years. He recalled that the law and order in Delhi was not in his government’s hand but actually under the central government’s control: “Was it strategic or was it a mistake? It (a security lapse) may happen one, two or three times. Beyond that, it looks like a conspiracy. The responsibility lies with the BJP.”

Kejriwal has previously been attacked with chilli powder, eggs, shoes and ink.