A day ahead of voting for the fifth phase of the Bihar elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears to have decided to milk the emotive cow protection issue to woo voters. An advertisement put up in newspapers by the party has questioned chief minister Nitish Kumar's silence on the controversy over beef, with the tagline 'jawaab nahi, toh vote nahin' (If there will be no reply, there will be no vote'.)
As the curtains come down this ferociously contested election, the Election Commission cracked down on political party ads in an unprecedented way on Wednesday after a complaint from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
For the first time in the history of the poll panel, the EC is censoring political ads. The EC has directed political parties not to publish ads in newspapers without its approval in Bihar.
Any ad that has not been submitted to the Election Commission for clearance cannot be published on the final day of polling.
Votes will be counted Sunday.
The Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance complained to the Election Commission a BJP ad featuring a woman hugging a cow and the headline claiming that Nitish Kumar does not respect the (holy) cow.
Resorting to its extraordinary powers under Article 324 of the Constitution for the second time during this Bihar election, The EC imposed an unprecedented restriction on political advertisements in newspapers.
This prohibits all political parties, candidates, organisations and individuals from publishing political advertisements in newspapers on November 5, unless approved by the state election commission.
The advertisement says that the chief minister's allies have 'repeatedly insulted the cow, which is revered by every Indian' and criticises the chief minister for his silence on the issue. It exhorts Nitish Kumar, without mentioning him by name, to stop 'vote bank politics' and state if he agrees if the statements of his allies.
The ad refers to Lalu Prasad Yadav's remark saying that some Hindus too eat beef and that for meat-eaters, it does not make a difference whether the meat is of a cow or a goat. It also makes a note of statements made by RJD leader Raghuvansh Pratap Singh and Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah.
Reacting to the advertisement, Delhi chief minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal said, "Have these ads in Bihar been given by the BJP's fringe elements? Or by BJP top brass?"
The BJP's ad campaign comes weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi harped on the beef issue in his election rallies in the state. At Munger, he had hit out at Lalu Prasad Yadav, saying that he insulted the Yadav community by 'commenting on what they eat.' Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also taken a jibe at a remark reportedly made by Lalu , claiming that RJD leader had said that a 'shaitan' (demon) forced him to make such a statement on beef.
Modi had asked 'How did the shaitan find his address?... Should people of Bihar allow the person in whom a shaitan lives to rule the state?" However, Lalu Yadav later challenged Modi to prove that he made the 'shaitan' remark. Sushil Modi, a possible chief ministerial candidate of the NDA alliance, too had questioned whether the Mahagathbandhan would open beef shops in every corner of the state.
The war of words had come in the context of the lynching of a man in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, allegedly over rumours that his family had stored beef.
Holy cow! BJPs advts in Bihar front pages today! Lovely! pic.twitter.com/3zcmIzr1Zd
— Aman Sharma (@AmanKayamHai) November 4, 2015
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Updated Date: Nov 05, 2015 07:26:08 IST