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After CD, storm over BJP advertisement

BJP's UP poll campaign is caught in controversy over an ad targeting minorities, reports Masoodul Hasan.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2007 10:24 IST
Masoodul Hasan

Close on the heels of the CD row, the BJP's poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh is caught in yet another controversy - this time over an advertisement allegedly targeting the minorities.

The newspaper advertisement was published on Wednesday in Western UP areas, which are going to polls in the second phase. It shows a locality with green flags hoisted from every housetop, along with a slogan that reads: "kya inka irada pak hai?" (Is their intention pure?).

The Congress reacted strongly to the advertisement, threatening to move the Election Commission.

Congress leader and Union Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters in New Delhi: "There cannot be a worse form of communalism than what we are seeing in these advertisements. We will definitely take this issue to the Election Commission". He alleged the ad blitz was clearly aimed at "targeting Muslims to breed hatred" and claimed it suspects the intentions of Muslims.

The Election Commission, when asked about the development, said the complainant could file an FIR against those printing and publishing the advertisements under Section 127-A of the Representation of People's Act.

Additional chief electoral officer Mritunjay Kumar Narayan told newsmen in Lucknow that the commission did not take kindly to such publicity material and the aggrieved party could file an FIR.

Though a party does not need permission for poll advertisements in print media, in case of objection FIRs could be filed, Narayan pointed out.

The BJP, however, appeared unfazed. Owning responsibility for the ad, the state BJP said anybody having objection to it was free to move court. BJP media cell incharge Prabhat Jha said ads were released after considering all pros and cons. Senior BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also dismissed the objections and insisted that the ad campaign was not communal and was only projecting the danger of ISI and SIMI.

"We are ready for an open debate, even as the elections are on, whether opposing ISI and SIMI in this country amounted to communalism," Naqvi said.