Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sangeet Som, one of those suspected of fanning last year’s deadly communal riots in Western Uttar Pradesh, has called for a ‘mahapanchayat’ on the controversial ‘love jihad’ issue.
The BJP, however, distanced itself from Som’s plans, despite the party’s recent tenor of raking up communally sensitive issues in an apparent attempt to polarise voters for the by-elections to the four assembly seats of Western Uttar Pradesh on September 13.
“BJP is not with Som. The state unit of the BJP is responsible for local development. The party has nothing to say on the issue,” said BJP national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi on Monday.
The party has been under fire from its political opponents over a slew of communally insensitive remarks by some of its leaders.
The BJP spokesperson also tried to play down the party’s tenor and deflected blame on the ‘love jihad’ controversy.
“It is not a BJP agenda. The BJP is not raising the issue nationally. Leaders of different religions should come together to solve this,” Trivedi said.
The term ‘love jihad’ is being used by some political and religious leaders to describe relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women, and to characterise such relationships as a strategy aimed at conversion and long-term demographic change.
The party’s campaign for the by-elections in the state is being headed by controversial MP Yogi Adityanath, another BJP leader who has earned the party flak for his acerbic remarks aimed at Muslims.
On Sunday evening, during a rally in Noida, he reiterated his belief that riots were a feature in areas dominated by minorities.
The spokesperson however defended Adityanath, saying whatever the MP had said was first on the floor of the Parliament.
“If the Congress did not like it (the remarks), why did not they not bring it to the notice of the speaker?” he said.
Sangeet Som, the Sardhana MLA, was accused of uploading a fake video that played a role in provoking communal tension in Muzaffarnagar last year in September and making inflammatory speeches.