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Can a Leopard Change His Spots: BJP’s History of Hate Mongering at the Polls

Teesta Setalvad 16 Apr 2016

For decades now, the Sangh driven BJP has blatantly challenged the Rule of Law with Election Campaign(s) that are Polarising and Divisive, especially in Uttar Pradesh (UP)

Over the past few days, in 2016, Uttar Pradesh, the state that signals the political fortunes for the country, was agog with yet another potentially divisive controversy stoked by the Sangh-inspired Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

A Poster of UP BJP Chief, Keshav Maurya as Lord Krishna was spotted in many parts of UP; it uses, yet again, religious symbols as a start up to its campaign ten months before the state elections due anytime before February 2017, signalling the beginning of a campaign that will bank on polarising the voter on religious lines.

This poster, that was spotted in Varanasi, prime minister Modi’s constituency, depicts UP BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya –a man with reportedly several criminal cases pending against him -- as ‘Lord Krishna’ and other politicians including Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav as ‘Kauravas’. Such imagery blatantly violates the law on mis-using religion for political gain. The election law, Section 123a of the Representation of People’s Act becomes effective once an election is announced; so chances are that we shall see more of the same provocative electioneering as dates for the crucial state elections draw near.
 
This peculiar brand of politics and campaigning has been, for several decades now, BJP and the Sangh’s USP (unique selling point). Gujarat or Delhi, Maharashtra, Assam or Kerala, its singular success has been the defiance of Indian law to galvanise votes on religious lines.
 
Ten years ago, in the run up to the UP elections of 2007, the party had been severely reprimanded by the Election Commission of India (ECI) that had even directed that an FIR be filed against senior BJP leaders, for a CD containing targeted hate mongering released by the BJP's state unit at the instance of the central leadership. The Election Commission at the time had directed the filing of an FIR against senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders -- Lalji Tandon and others -- involved in the production of the controversial party election CD allegedly making a reference to Babri and Godhra train arson of 2002. The CD had been officially released and widely circulated.
 
The issue is still open as allegations of deliberate delays into the investigation by the ruling Samajwadi Party have been alleged. As recently as November 2013, the Election Commission had sought information from the Uttar Pradesh administration on investigation(s) and prosecution into the case. This followed a petition filed by one Hansraj Jain in 2010, before the Delhi High Court against Chief Election Commissioner that raised the issue of tardy investigation into the offence(s). He had also alleged that the CD had not been sent for forensic examination.
 
The contents of the CD brazenly released by the BJP's state unit -- that claimed it had got the clearance of the central leadership -- were found to be so offensive that independent citizens groups as well as political parties had appealed to the EC to de-recognise the BJP. The Commission had issued a show-cause notice to the BJP on the matter.

The controversial CD was first released at the party's national council session in December 2006
 
The controversy broke out in April 2007 following television channel, CNN-IBN's airing the hate ridden CD, and widespread condemnation of the same, followed, The BJP, predictably, disowned the communally inflammatory compact disc released to the media at a press conference in Lucknow, but owned up as "official" another CD released at its Lucknow conclave in December 2006.
 
"Yes, the CD released by the party and given to the media at the party's national council session in Lucknow is official party material," party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar had then said in response to a pointed question. The fact is that this "official CD" was also found to be offensive and anyone seeing it — as this reporter (The Hindu, Neena Vyas) has — would note that it is calculated to create hatred as it shows Muslims slaughtering a cow in a gruesome and primitive manner. This "official" CD also has footage on Hindu girls eloping or being abducted by Muslim youth with a voiceover saying that Muslim clerics encouraged this.
 
When the Election Commission (EC) had first directed, on April 4, 2007,  the registration of an FIR against senior party functionaries, the then Lucknow SSP had been directed , to carry out an investigation and Hazratganj police station in-charge conducted the preliminary inquiry and concluded that the CD could cause hatred among different communities and political parties. Thereafter, the then Hazratganj police in-charge Adesh Kumar Sharma, on April 5, 2007, registered FIRs against BJP office-bearers and workers under various IPC sections including 153 A (Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion), Section 153 B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to nation integration and Section 295 A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) and Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act that is for promoting enmity between classes in connection with election.
 
The Hindu had, on April 7, 2007 passed strong editorial comments on the comments of the CD, under the heading, " Playing foul" The editorial had read:
 
“That a mainstream party, the BJP, revels in Muslim-bashing is not the best-kept of India's political secrets. The campaign of vitriol gets particularly nasty at election time — for obvious reasons. Since the party's raison d'etre as well as life force is communalism as a political mobilisation plank, its electoral strategy can only be pitting India's overwhelming Hindu majority against its 150 million Muslim minority...
"… the BJP has got away, time and again, with inciting communal passions. A dispassionate analysis reveals that the major milestones on its post-1984 road to power have been communal campaigns revolving round the project of demolishing the Babri Masjid and building a Ram temple on its grave, and exploiting anti-Muslim pogroms, most notoriously in Gujarat… This time with evidence in hand, the Election Commission has shown commendable seriousness in moving against the offenders… A lot rides on how the ECI handles this case and how the BJP responds to the challenge.
"The statute book — the Indian Penal Code, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the Election Commission's Model Code of Conduct, the binding character of which has been upheld by the Supreme Court — provides enough and more backing for action against parties intentionally causing enmity and hatred among communities…The time has come to close the gap between precept and practice by enforcing the electoral and criminal law against the nth time offenders in U.P."

Dozens of Citizens had petitioned the Election Commission and Made this Appeal:

Stop BJP’s ‘Hate Muslims’ campaign for Hindu votes in UP!

"We are absolutely horrified by the shocking attempt of the BJP to launch a hate campaign against Muslims with the intent of gathering Hindu vote in the coming Assembly polls in UP. I/We have gone through the contents of the complaint lodged by Ms. Teesta Setalvad and others with the CEC’s head office in New Delhi this morning on behalf of all peace-loving citizens and are in total agreement with its contents and specific demands. Sir, we urge stringent and urgent action from your side to squash such a sinister bid to divide India on religious lines.

--Demand from Chief Election Commissioner: the BJP’s de-registration
--Demand from Union Home Minister & Chief Minister, UP:
--Criminal prosecution of BJP leadersDear Friends,

Since yesterday, IBN 7 has been continuously telecasting a detailed expose on how CDs are being distributed by the BJP to gather votes in UP. The contents of the CDs, intended to generate hatred against Muslims in order to gather Hindu votes in the Assembly polls in UP are absolutely shocking to say the least.
 -- Throughout its continuing telecast since yesterday, IBN 7 has repeatedly said the contents of the CD are so vicious that the channel is holding back the audio contents out of fear that it could instigate Hindu-Muslim violence in the country. Therefore, IBN has restricted itself to only showing images of BJP leaders and others who figure in the CDs.
 -- The BJP leadership’s first attempt was to pretend that it had no knowledge of what the CDs contained. But the producer of the programme and the dialogue writer have been shown telling IBN 7 that the CDs were seen and cleared by none less than BJP President, Rajnath Singh and top BJP leader from UP, Lalji Tandon, among others, before their release.  The CDs were released at a formal press conference by Tandon in Lucknow on Tuesday.
 -- The malicious act of the BJP leadership is a Constitutional and criminal offense (inciting hatred against any community). It is also a serious Electoral Offence, under the provisions of the Representation of People’s Act.
-- Caught in its ugly act to collect voted over dead bodies, the BJP has quickly apologized, saying it was withdrawing the cassettes. But is a “sorry” enough to condone what is nothing short of a criminal plot for inciting hatred and mass murder?
 -- The Chief Election Commissioner has reportedly taken very serious note of this attempt to divide the nation simply to reap a rich electoral harvest. But the issue is far too serious for citizens to leave this matter to the Chief Election Commissioner.
 -- We urge all of you to send protest letters, telegrams or e-mails, NOW, demanding as peace loving citizens of this country, the immediate de-registration of the BJP as a political party and disqualification of every BJP candidate from participating in the coming Assembly elections in UP.
 -- We also ask you to write similarly to the Union Home Minister, Mr. Shivraj Patil and the chief minister of UP, Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav to ensure that FIRs are registered against top officials of the BJP and criminal prosecutions launched immediately.

Suggested course of action:

A. Petition the Chief Election Commissioner:
1. Please send an e-mail to the Chief Election Commissioner NOW, lodging your protest in your own words and demand stringent action against the BJP. ALTERNATIVELY, you are urged to copy and paste the message (Pls see SUGGESTED DRAFT TO CEC below) and email it to the CEC. (email: feedback@eci.gov.in)

2. IN ADDITION, Please click http://www.petitiononline.com/bjpcd123/petition.html to sign the Online Petition to the CEC in the same connection. This will help us pursue the matter further.

3. Please e-mail the Union Home Minister, Sri Shiv Raj Patil and UP Chief Minister, Sri Mulayam Singh Yadav, demanding criminal prosecution of the BJP leadership for inciting communal hatred against Indian Muslims. (Pls See SUGGESTED DRAFT TO Union Home Minister/UP CM below)
Home Minister e-mail: websitemhaweb@nic.in; fax: 011-23794833
UP Chief MInister: cm@up.nic.in Fax: 0522-2239234; 0522-2235733;
 
See also What did the BJP’s Hate Ridden CD, ‘Bharat Ki Pukar’ actually say ?
 

Can a Leopard Change His Spots: BJP’s History of Hate Mongering at the Polls

For decades now, the Sangh driven BJP has blatantly challenged the Rule of Law with Election Campaign(s) that are Polarising and Divisive, especially in Uttar Pradesh (UP)

Over the past few days, in 2016, Uttar Pradesh, the state that signals the political fortunes for the country, was agog with yet another potentially divisive controversy stoked by the Sangh-inspired Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

A Poster of UP BJP Chief, Keshav Maurya as Lord Krishna was spotted in many parts of UP; it uses, yet again, religious symbols as a start up to its campaign ten months before the state elections due anytime before February 2017, signalling the beginning of a campaign that will bank on polarising the voter on religious lines.

This poster, that was spotted in Varanasi, prime minister Modi’s constituency, depicts UP BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya –a man with reportedly several criminal cases pending against him -- as ‘Lord Krishna’ and other politicians including Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav as ‘Kauravas’. Such imagery blatantly violates the law on mis-using religion for political gain. The election law, Section 123a of the Representation of People’s Act becomes effective once an election is announced; so chances are that we shall see more of the same provocative electioneering as dates for the crucial state elections draw near.
 
This peculiar brand of politics and campaigning has been, for several decades now, BJP and the Sangh’s USP (unique selling point). Gujarat or Delhi, Maharashtra, Assam or Kerala, its singular success has been the defiance of Indian law to galvanise votes on religious lines.
 
Ten years ago, in the run up to the UP elections of 2007, the party had been severely reprimanded by the Election Commission of India (ECI) that had even directed that an FIR be filed against senior BJP leaders, for a CD containing targeted hate mongering released by the BJP's state unit at the instance of the central leadership. The Election Commission at the time had directed the filing of an FIR against senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders -- Lalji Tandon and others -- involved in the production of the controversial party election CD allegedly making a reference to Babri and Godhra train arson of 2002. The CD had been officially released and widely circulated.
 
The issue is still open as allegations of deliberate delays into the investigation by the ruling Samajwadi Party have been alleged. As recently as November 2013, the Election Commission had sought information from the Uttar Pradesh administration on investigation(s) and prosecution into the case. This followed a petition filed by one Hansraj Jain in 2010, before the Delhi High Court against Chief Election Commissioner that raised the issue of tardy investigation into the offence(s). He had also alleged that the CD had not been sent for forensic examination.
 
The contents of the CD brazenly released by the BJP's state unit -- that claimed it had got the clearance of the central leadership -- were found to be so offensive that independent citizens groups as well as political parties had appealed to the EC to de-recognise the BJP. The Commission had issued a show-cause notice to the BJP on the matter.

The controversial CD was first released at the party's national council session in December 2006
 
The controversy broke out in April 2007 following television channel, CNN-IBN's airing the hate ridden CD, and widespread condemnation of the same, followed, The BJP, predictably, disowned the communally inflammatory compact disc released to the media at a press conference in Lucknow, but owned up as "official" another CD released at its Lucknow conclave in December 2006.
 
"Yes, the CD released by the party and given to the media at the party's national council session in Lucknow is official party material," party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar had then said in response to a pointed question. The fact is that this "official CD" was also found to be offensive and anyone seeing it — as this reporter (The Hindu, Neena Vyas) has — would note that it is calculated to create hatred as it shows Muslims slaughtering a cow in a gruesome and primitive manner. This "official" CD also has footage on Hindu girls eloping or being abducted by Muslim youth with a voiceover saying that Muslim clerics encouraged this.
 
When the Election Commission (EC) had first directed, on April 4, 2007,  the registration of an FIR against senior party functionaries, the then Lucknow SSP had been directed , to carry out an investigation and Hazratganj police station in-charge conducted the preliminary inquiry and concluded that the CD could cause hatred among different communities and political parties. Thereafter, the then Hazratganj police in-charge Adesh Kumar Sharma, on April 5, 2007, registered FIRs against BJP office-bearers and workers under various IPC sections including 153 A (Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion), Section 153 B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to nation integration and Section 295 A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) and Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act that is for promoting enmity between classes in connection with election.
 
The Hindu had, on April 7, 2007 passed strong editorial comments on the comments of the CD, under the heading, " Playing foul" The editorial had read:
 
“That a mainstream party, the BJP, revels in Muslim-bashing is not the best-kept of India's political secrets. The campaign of vitriol gets particularly nasty at election time — for obvious reasons. Since the party's raison d'etre as well as life force is communalism as a political mobilisation plank, its electoral strategy can only be pitting India's overwhelming Hindu majority against its 150 million Muslim minority...
"… the BJP has got away, time and again, with inciting communal passions. A dispassionate analysis reveals that the major milestones on its post-1984 road to power have been communal campaigns revolving round the project of demolishing the Babri Masjid and building a Ram temple on its grave, and exploiting anti-Muslim pogroms, most notoriously in Gujarat… This time with evidence in hand, the Election Commission has shown commendable seriousness in moving against the offenders… A lot rides on how the ECI handles this case and how the BJP responds to the challenge.
"The statute book — the Indian Penal Code, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the Election Commission's Model Code of Conduct, the binding character of which has been upheld by the Supreme Court — provides enough and more backing for action against parties intentionally causing enmity and hatred among communities…The time has come to close the gap between precept and practice by enforcing the electoral and criminal law against the nth time offenders in U.P."

Dozens of Citizens had petitioned the Election Commission and Made this Appeal:

Stop BJP’s ‘Hate Muslims’ campaign for Hindu votes in UP!

"We are absolutely horrified by the shocking attempt of the BJP to launch a hate campaign against Muslims with the intent of gathering Hindu vote in the coming Assembly polls in UP. I/We have gone through the contents of the complaint lodged by Ms. Teesta Setalvad and others with the CEC’s head office in New Delhi this morning on behalf of all peace-loving citizens and are in total agreement with its contents and specific demands. Sir, we urge stringent and urgent action from your side to squash such a sinister bid to divide India on religious lines.

--Demand from Chief Election Commissioner: the BJP’s de-registration
--Demand from Union Home Minister & Chief Minister, UP:
--Criminal prosecution of BJP leadersDear Friends,

Since yesterday, IBN 7 has been continuously telecasting a detailed expose on how CDs are being distributed by the BJP to gather votes in UP. The contents of the CDs, intended to generate hatred against Muslims in order to gather Hindu votes in the Assembly polls in UP are absolutely shocking to say the least.
 -- Throughout its continuing telecast since yesterday, IBN 7 has repeatedly said the contents of the CD are so vicious that the channel is holding back the audio contents out of fear that it could instigate Hindu-Muslim violence in the country. Therefore, IBN has restricted itself to only showing images of BJP leaders and others who figure in the CDs.
 -- The BJP leadership’s first attempt was to pretend that it had no knowledge of what the CDs contained. But the producer of the programme and the dialogue writer have been shown telling IBN 7 that the CDs were seen and cleared by none less than BJP President, Rajnath Singh and top BJP leader from UP, Lalji Tandon, among others, before their release.  The CDs were released at a formal press conference by Tandon in Lucknow on Tuesday.
 -- The malicious act of the BJP leadership is a Constitutional and criminal offense (inciting hatred against any community). It is also a serious Electoral Offence, under the provisions of the Representation of People’s Act.
-- Caught in its ugly act to collect voted over dead bodies, the BJP has quickly apologized, saying it was withdrawing the cassettes. But is a “sorry” enough to condone what is nothing short of a criminal plot for inciting hatred and mass murder?
 -- The Chief Election Commissioner has reportedly taken very serious note of this attempt to divide the nation simply to reap a rich electoral harvest. But the issue is far too serious for citizens to leave this matter to the Chief Election Commissioner.
 -- We urge all of you to send protest letters, telegrams or e-mails, NOW, demanding as peace loving citizens of this country, the immediate de-registration of the BJP as a political party and disqualification of every BJP candidate from participating in the coming Assembly elections in UP.
 -- We also ask you to write similarly to the Union Home Minister, Mr. Shivraj Patil and the chief minister of UP, Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav to ensure that FIRs are registered against top officials of the BJP and criminal prosecutions launched immediately.

Suggested course of action:

A. Petition the Chief Election Commissioner:
1. Please send an e-mail to the Chief Election Commissioner NOW, lodging your protest in your own words and demand stringent action against the BJP. ALTERNATIVELY, you are urged to copy and paste the message (Pls see SUGGESTED DRAFT TO CEC below) and email it to the CEC. (email: feedback@eci.gov.in)

2. IN ADDITION, Please click http://www.petitiononline.com/bjpcd123/petition.html to sign the Online Petition to the CEC in the same connection. This will help us pursue the matter further.

3. Please e-mail the Union Home Minister, Sri Shiv Raj Patil and UP Chief Minister, Sri Mulayam Singh Yadav, demanding criminal prosecution of the BJP leadership for inciting communal hatred against Indian Muslims. (Pls See SUGGESTED DRAFT TO Union Home Minister/UP CM below)
Home Minister e-mail: websitemhaweb@nic.in; fax: 011-23794833
UP Chief MInister: cm@up.nic.in Fax: 0522-2239234; 0522-2235733;
 
See also What did the BJP’s Hate Ridden CD, ‘Bharat Ki Pukar’ actually say ?
 

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