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India Election Update: Close Call For BJP and Modi

“This new India will enter your home and kill you (Pakistan). We will respond to a bullet with a cannon,” he said. “When you vote for BJP, your vote will come directly to Modi. This is the land of Lord Ram, this is the land of the country’s dignity.”

DESPARDES News Monitor – PM Modi on Wednesday compared Sri Lanka Easter attacks with such in India during an election rally in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh (UP). “Recently, we have seen what happened in Sri Lanka. The same situation was here before 2014 in India. How can we forget those days when in the country every other day there was a terrorist attack,” he said, referring to blasts that took place in Ayodhya and neighboring Faizabad more than a decade ago. Modi said other political parties had dealt with terrorism with a soft hand. He also accused the main opposition Congress Party and the state’s regional parties of pandering to their vote bank in the Muslim community and not holding those responsible for terror attacks accountable. “The factories of terrorism are still working in our neighborhood. These terrorist nations are waiting for one weak government. They are waiting for an opportunity,” said Modi. Ayodhya has been a tinder box of religious tension for decades over the demands from Hindu activists for the construction of a temple on a site where a mosque previously stood. In 1992, the Babri mosque was pulled down by Hindu nationalists and workers belonging to right wing Hindu groups and political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — which Modi now leads. The action led to widespread riots that killed thousands across the country. The city has since become the symbol of communal rhetoric in Indian politics with the ruling BJP publicly stating that one of its goals was to build the temple and honor one of their most revered Hindu gods, Ram. Modi in his speech also spoke about keeping a strong stance on Pakistan and terrorism. He referred to India’s claim of launching air strikes in Pakistan in retaliation to a February attack in Kashmir which killed 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers. “This new India will enter your home and kill you. We will respond to a bullet with a cannon,” he said. “When you vote for BJP, your vote will come directly to Modi. This is the land of Lord Ram, this is the land of the country’s dignity.” The BJP swept the state of UP in both the 2014 national elections and the state elections in 2017. Home to some of the worst riots in recent memory, the state is being currently governed by a priest-turned-politician, Yogi Adityanath.According to Reuters, PM Modi’s BJP is flush with cash, giving his Hindu nationalist bloc a massive advantage over the main opposition Congress party as he seeks to win a second term in India’s general election. Opaque campaign financing in the world’s largest democracy makes it tricky to get a full picture of money in politics here, said Reuters. But current and former BJP supporters, opposition politicians, businessmen and activists interviewed by the news agency ay Modi has an unprecedented advantage, thanks to support from businesses and expectations he will be the winner. Staggered voting in the general election is currently in progress across India, with results to be declared on May 23. According to Reuters, the BJP war chest has allowed it to unleash a massive amount of advertising on social media and send Modi and party officials crisscrossing India to campaign. The ruling party has showered money on Facebook and Google advertisements, spending six times more than Congress since February, according to data from the two firms. Modi merchandise abounds, as do Modi marketing sites. The money puts the BJP in an extraordinarily powerful position, even over logistical issues like how to get its leaders to election rallies. A Congress official said the BJP had the funds to reserve most of India’s fleet of helicopters for hire for 90 days, making it difficult for opponents to get hold of them. “We have never ever seen an election with such disparity. Financially, we cannot compete with them,” said another veteran Congress politician, who asked to remain anonymous. He and another high-ranking Congress official said they expected the BJP to outspend them by a factor of ten. A third Congress source estimated the disparity at twice that.

Pragya Singh Thakur
Pragya Singh Thakur

The Election Commission on Wednesday banned Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha candidate from Bhopal, Pragya Singh Thakur, from campaigning for 72 hours for her remarks on former Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare and Babri mosque demolition. The panel “strongly condemned” her remarks and warned her “not to repeat the misconduct in future”. The EC said though Pragya had apologized for her statement against the slain IPS officer, it found the statement to be “unwarranted”. Ms. Thakur had said Karkare was killed in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack because of her “curse” as he “tortured” her when he probed the case as chief of the ATS. She also had said that she was “proud” of her participation in the demolition of the Babri mosque at Ayodhya in 1992. Prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a scathing attack on Rahul Gandhi-led Congress during his rally for Hoshangabad Lok Sabha seat, saying that the grand old party was driven by hatred and dreamt of killing Modi. PM Modi also referred to Islamic preacher Zakir Naik and targeted the Congress party and its Bhopal candidate Digvijay Singh for hoisting him on their shoulders. “The actions by Sri Lanka following the attacks that killed 300 include banning the television channel of Zakir Naik. This is the same Zakir Naik against whom this government had imposed a ban on. This is the same Zakir Naik in whose programs Congress leader Digvijay Singh would attend and he is the same man whom the Congress hoisted on its shoulders.” Hoshangabad will vote during the fifth phase polling on May 6. In the 2014 general elections, the BJP had won 27 out of the 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh, while the Congress had won just 2. Congress won majority of the assembly elections held in the state last year (Dec 2018).

Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi

PM Modi-led government has asked Rahul Gandhi, the president of the main opposition Congress party, to respond to a complaint by a lawmaker from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party accusing him of holding dual British citizenship against Indian law. Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has dominated Indian politics for much of its history since independence from Britain in 1947, is the main challenger to Modi in the 39-day general election that began on April 11. Results will be known on May 23. India’s constitution says that any person voluntarily acquiring a foreign passport automatically loses Indian citizenship. Gandhi has been a member of India’s lower house of parliament since 2004 and is contesting this election from two seats. BJP leaders have for long cited what they call annual reports and other documents from 2005, 2006 and 2009 of a UK-registered company, at which Gandhi was shown as a director, and reportedly mentioned his nationality as British.