BJP on Saturday described as "totally misleading and false" reports that senior party leader LK Advani would not campaign in Bihar elections but was evasive on whether he would visit seats which have a dominant Muslim population as his presence could polarise votes.
"There were reports that L K Advani will not campaign in Bihar as ally JD(U) has some reservations. I can say with full responsibility that these reports are totally misleading and false," BJP Chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
There were reports in the media that Advani will not campaign during the first phase of elections as these constituencies have a sizable Muslim population and post-Ayodhya title suit verdict, Advani's presence could polarise votes and harm ally JD(U) while bringing electoral benefits to the RJD-LJP combine.
These reports had stated that Advani would campaign on five days starting from October 19 when campaigning for the first phase- polling for which will be held on October 21-comes to a close.
Prasad was evasive when asked whether Advani would campaign in the first phase. But party sources confirmed that Advani would not visit Phase-I constituencies.
There have been campaign issues between JD(U) and BJP with the former insisting that no steps should be taken which would antagonise the minority voters. Hindutva hardliners like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Varun Gandhi have been kept away from the election campaign, reportedly at the insistence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Though the two parties have continued with their alliance and also have the same seat-sharing arrangement as in 2005, JD(U) has avoided a joint campaign with BJP. The advertisements in media and newspapers, would however be under the NDA banner.
But BJP has denied that JD(U) has put such conditions.
"Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav had said in Patna last week that Advani is most welcome to campaign in Bihar. I talked to Nitish Kumar on Saturday and he asked me to inform the national media that he has no issues," Prasad said.
Interestingly, Kumar has himself not contradicted these media reports about Advani's campaign.