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Ahead of the polls, BJP trains its guns on RJD candidates’ criminal history, tie up with CPI

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NEW DELHI: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins his campaign in Bihar this week, the BJP is likely to latch onto issues such as the RJD giving tickets to 61 candidates with criminal antecedents, RJD and Congress alliance with CPI-ML, Congress leader P Chidambaram’s call to bring back Article 370 for Jammu and Kashmir and a controversial “Jinnah supporter” candidate chosen by the Congress.

The RJD has declared criminal antecedents of 61 of its candidates so far, out of the 144 who are being fielded by the party. Senior BJP leaders said even prominent candidates such as the opposition chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav and his brother Tej Pratap Yadav face corruption-cum-money laundering charges and domestic violence-cum-dowry harassment charges respectively.

A court had last week framed charges against the RJD candidate from Mokama, Anant Singh, for recovery of an AK-47 and explosives from his residence for which he is in jail. After the Election Commission asked parties to declare why they were fielding criminals, the RJD’s declaration said “Tejashwi is very popular in his area and very active for the welfare of society, is an ex-deputy CM and 9th pass” and “Tej Pratap Yadav is very active to promote the youth for their future livelihood and no other candidate in the party is as good as him”. The PM’s campaign is expected to focus sharply on corruption and the criminal cases against RJD candidates.

Raising the nationalistic pitch, the BJP has also slammed the RJD’s tie-up with the CPI-ML citing a history of left-wing extremism in Bihar and pointed out that one of the latter’s candidates, Mohd Aftab Alam from Aurai seat, was arrested when he went to file a nomination. Another CPI-ML candidate, Jitendra Manjhi, was also arrested for a criminal case when he went to file his nomination from Gopalganj. The decision of the Congress to field the former Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) president Maksoor Usmani from Jale is also already under attack from the BJP, which has cited Usmani’s support for the Mohd Ali Jinnah portrait in the AMU in 2018. Such choices expose the “mindset of the opposition alliance”, said a BJP leader.

Former home minister P. Chidambaram’s statement saying he and the Congress party stands for bringing back Article 370 in J&K is also set to add to the arsenal of the PM as he begins his campaign, said BJP leaders. The move to scrap Article 370, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of J&K, was the BJP’s main pitch in the Maharashtra and Haryana state elections last year, and Chidambaram’s statement on the eve of Bihar polls has reignited the issue.

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