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HindustanTimes Wed,24 Sep 2014

BJP paid Gujarat Muslims not to vote: Digvijaya Singh

IANS  New Delhi, December 22, 2012
First Published: 20:56 IST(22/12/2012) | Last Updated: 21:02 IST(22/12/2012)

After Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's hat-trick in the state assembly elections, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh on Saturday accused the BJP of paying Rs.500 to each Muslim in the state to stop them from voting.

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"This has been the BJP's strategy for the last 15-20 years. The BJP cadre and candidates fan out in Muslim-majority constituencies and enforce a lower voter turnout by buying them off. They blatantly distribute cash among the Muslim population and take away their voter ID cards, thus keeping them away from polling booths," Singh told news channel Headlines Today in an interview.

"If you see the voting pattern in Muslim-dominated areas, the turnout is never more than 25-30%. Voters are bought over for as less as Rs.500. This is not a wild allegation. I have evidence and am saying it with full responsibility," said Singh.

According to Singh, the BJP swept 12 of the 19 constituencies in Gujarat where Muslims are in majority.

He said Modi's apology for the 2002 communal riots in the state in January had nothing to do with the poll results.

"In some areas, there was polarisation of votes and in most areas, the BJP unleashed its strategy to gag Muslims by forcing a low turnout by paying them off. This is BJP's pogrom not only in Gujarat but all over India. I have proof and there are statistics to back my claim," said Singh.

Responding to a query if battle lines for 2014 were already being drawn for a clash between Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Modi, Singh said: "Modi's influence is limited to Gujarat but Rahul has an overarching appeal across the nation. The two cannot be compared. Rahul Gandhi will not project himself as the prime ministerial candidate. Elections will be fought under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. If we win, the party's parliamentary board will decide on the prime ministerial candidate."

"The BJP is stuffed with prime ministerial aspirants who do not even have a constituency.  LK Advani contests from Gujarat, Arun Jaitley and (BJP president) Nitin Gadkari have never fought elections and Sushma Swaraj is always on the hunt for a safe seat. Modi is the only leader rooted to the ground. And he's ahead in the race as the prime ministerial candidate," Singh said.


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