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FTN: Does the BJP's CD matter?

Apr 10, 2007 04:29 PM IST India India
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The Election Commission has ordered a police complaint against BJP president Rajnath Singh and asked the party to explain why it shouldn’t be de-recognised for a CD denigrating Muslims. The BJP apologised for the CD on April 5 and said that it doesn’t agree with the contents. But on Monday the party went on the offensive, accusing the Election Commission of setting a wrong precedent and Rajnath offering himself for arrest in Lucknow. Will the BJP’s CD polarise the electorate in UP? Are demands to de-recognise it democratic? CNN-IBN’s Editor-in-Chief asked this to a panel comprising Union Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal and BJP leader Sheshadri Chari. The BJP has disowned the CD, but its chief ministerial candidate Kalyan Singh says there is nothing objectionable about it. The party has apologised but says the matter is not serious enough for it to be punished. The Congress, Jan Morcha, SP and BSP have demanded that the BJP be de-recgonised for the CD. But is this legally possible? Sibal, a top lawyer and Constitutional expert, claimed it is. “For the first time under the Symbols Order, a political party’s national status can be taken away. Not registration, national status can be taken away,” said Sibal. Asked if parties were treating the BJP like an untouchable, Sibal said: “Not at all. The Congress is only trying to ensure that in the course of electoral process such things should not vitiate the atmosphere. As it will take time to find out who is responsible behind the CD episode, some interim action has to be taken. We support the Election Commission for that.” The BJP on Monday organised nationwide protests against the Election Commission’s order and its president offered himself for arrest in Lucknow. Is the BJP now making an issue out of the CD though it claims it is a non-issue? Chari denied this and instead alleged the Congress was desperately “making an issue out of this” because it had no strength in UP. “Just because a bunch of Congress hooligans find it a little uncomfortable for them, they cannot go to the extent of doing this,” said Chari. PAGE_BREAK And why can’t Congress forget the matter? Sibal claimed this was because Kalyan Singh has said he stands by everything what the CD says. “I have not lodged the FIR, it’s the Election Commission,” said Sibal, who objected to Chari calling his party leaders hooligans. Sibal said the Election Commission had ordered an FIR against BJP leaders because they released it and Kalyan Singh has said there is nothing wrong about it. The CD’s maker has alleged that BJP leaders are threatening him to take the rap. Is it embarrassing for BJP when its leaders speak in different voices and when someone suggests that he has been threatened by the party leadership to take up the full responsibility for the production? “Not at all,” said Chari, because the BJP has categorically disassociated itself from the CD and if the Election Commission has to analyse the content of the CD, let them take their sweet time. He suggests that, even before the EC analyse the CD, hoard of Congress leaders including Kapil Sibal are in hurry and are pressing the Commission for de-regulation. And it is clearly misusing the provisions of law, and it is “carrying the idea of secularism, non-secularism and communalism a little too far,” said Chari. Is the Congress worried that the campaign may polarise the electorate in UP and it could cost the Congress as the BJP now has the issue to try and consolidate the so-called Hindu vote bank? Congress is not polarising anybody, said Sibbal. Congress is talking about economics, society, crime, development and all the basic issues. He also said that the BJP has no issue for the last 18 years, they have no issue for the UP elections and are going down on daily basis. “And Mr Chari talked about us being single digit, you wait and watch what’s going to happen to the BJP, they are going to be disseminated. It is because they have no issue, they have brought up this CD,” said Sibal.