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BJP is being hounded: Advani

By Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
April 09, 2007 18:35 IST
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"If someone else is being stupid, why should we not take political mileage out of it," Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart and former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani made it loud and clear on Monday

He was referring to the controversial CD with grossly communal anti-Muslim contents, which has landed the party into trouble.

Advani was accompanying BJP national chief Rajnath Singh who arrived to court arrest, along with a huge saffron bandwagon of party supporters.

Prominent among others who were also present were two former BJP national chiefs, Murli Manohar Joshi and Venkaiah Naidu, besides former union finance minister Yashwant Sinha.

The police however refused to take Singh into custody for 'want of evidence'.

"We do not have any evidence against you on the basis of which we could arrest you," Lucknow senior superintendent of police Jyoti Narayan explicitly told the BJP president, who literally mobbed the Hazratganj police station with a few thousand of his supporters.

Narayan told reporters, "We have told the BJP leaders that currently we were making preliminary findings and we could proceed only after a case was established against him by the investigation officer."

In an FIR lodged by the election commission, the BJP chief and party's UP veteran Lalji Tandon had been pointedly held responsible for the circulation of a CD containing 'objectionable' material sufficient to ignite anti-Muslim communal passions.

The CD was formally released, along with other publicity material at a party function chaired by Tandon last week.

However, Advani vehemently condemned the Election Commission for lodging a criminal case against the BJP national chief. 

He questioned the intention of the Election Commission behind lodging a case against the BJP chief when the district administration had already filed an independent FIR against BJP in general, without naming any particular leader.

"I fail to understand what prompted the EC to take this unprecedented step," he said, while citing a list of cases where despite passing strictures against leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Ajit Jogi, Sharad Pawar and Lalu Prasad Yadav, the commission never lodged a case against them.

He sought to further point out, "I am told that EC had issued a notice to UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, too, but no FIR as been lodged against him."

Commenting on the provision in the Representation of People's Act for disqualification of parties inciting communal passions, Advani asked, "Isn't it stupid to conceive that a national party that had ruled the country for six years
could be de-recognised on such flimsy charges?"

He also sought to equate the UPA government's attitude to that of the Congress regime during the Emergency.

"Just as the then-ruling Congress hounded Jai Prakash Narayan,  who led the people's movement against that regime, the present Congress-led UPA government is now targeting the BJP," he charged. "I only hope that Congress remembers how it was overthrown by the people of this country then."

He said, "The Congress party is worried about BJP's unstoppable progress today."

Later, talking to the media, Rajnath Singh said, "A high-level probe needs to be ordered to find out how and why a FIR was lodged against the BJP president, which simply speaks volumes of the motivated working of the Election Commission."

Asked if he agreed with the contents of the CD, he shot back, "Well, we have already taken action against a party functionary whose lapse led to this controversy."

Both Advani and Singh, however, discreetly avoided condemning the highly derogatory and anti-Muslim contents of the CD.

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Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow