A newspaper advertisement issued by the BJP in Bihar, featuring a woman hugging a cow, added fuel to the surcharged political atmosphere ahead of Thursday’s final phase of voting to be held in minority concentrated districts.
The Janata Dal (United) accused its main rival of promoting communal hatred to polarize voters while the Election Commission ordered a ban on publishing advertisements by any party or candidate on the day of polling.
The JD(U) was livid as the advertisement questions chief minister Nitish Kumar’s silence on controversial remarks by ally Lalu Prasad and other leaders of the RJD on consumption of beef by Hindus.
JD(U) general secretary KC Tyagi said the advertisement violates the model code of conduct, which clearly prohibits use of religion to seek votes.
“Stop vote bank politics and explain whether you endorse these statements?” the ad says, before listing three comments made by RJD chief Lalu Prasad and other leaders. In each of the statements, the word beef is highlighted in red.
The advertisement comes a day ahead of last phase polling in 57 seats spread across districts in Bihar which have a concentration of minority populations.
The Election Commission too came under fire as Tyagi accused it of being lenient towards the BJP. He alleged that the rival party was trying to paint Bihar with a communal colour this election.
The JD(U) leader said his party would knock on the doors of Rashtrapati Bhavan if no action was taken by the Election Commission.
The party was spared the trouble of moving the President as the commission took exception to the “offending nature” of certain advertisements that appeared in Wednesday’s papers, despite an advisory against publishing such material.
It ordered a blanket ban, unless pre-certified by an empowered media panel, so that “no untoward incident takes place because of any inflammatory or hate advertisements”.
The move followed a representation from the grand alliance parties, including the JD(U) and Congress, against the advertisement.
(with inputs from agencies)