The controversial term 'love jihad' may make its impact felt in the Bijnor by-election. Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan's comment at an election rally on Thursday - 'love aur jihad dono pak hai' (both love and jihad are pious acts) - has kicked up a political storm.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was swift to launch a counter-attack. Suresh Rana, BJP MLA and by-election in charge, retorted, "Love could be a pious act to an extent, but how we can put jihad in the same category? It is used for destruction of non-Muslims."
"We will launch a massive campaign to expose them (SP) on the issue," Rana, an accused in last year's Muzaffarnagar riots, said. He called upon people to boycott Khan socially and also ensure his expulsion from politics.
"We will apprise people about these comments of a senior state cabinet minister," he said, giving the go ahead to party workers to upload the clippings of a newspaper carrying Khan's speech on social media.
The term has become a major issue in western UP, with the BJP and some rightwing Hindu organisations accusing Muslim men of being a part of a conspiracy to entice Hindu women and converting them to Islam.