Bihar polls: BJP evasive on Advani campaigning in Muslim areas

BJP on Saturday described as "totally misleading and false" reports that senior party leader LK Advani would not campaign in Bihar elections but was evasive on whether he would visit seats which have a dominant Muslim population.

New Delhi: BJP on Saturday described as "totally
misleading and false" reports that senior party leader L K
Advani would not campaign in Bihar elections but was evasive
on whether he would visit seats which have a dominant Muslim
population as his presence could polarise votes.

"There were reports that L K Advani will not campaign in
Bihar as ally JD(U) has some reservations. I can say with full
responsibility that these reports are totally misleading and
false," BJP Chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
There were reports in the media that Advani will not
campaign during the first phase of elections as these
constituencies have a sizable Muslim population and
post-Ayodhya title suit verdict, Advani`s presence could
polarise votes and harm ally JD(U) while bringing electoral
benefits to the RJD-LJP combine.

These reports had stated that Advani would campaign on
five days starting from October 19 when campaigning for the
first phase- polling for which will be held on October 21-
comes to a close.

Prasad was evasive when asked whether Advani would
campaign in the first phase. But party sources confirmed that
Advani would not visit Phase-I constituencies.
There have been campaign issues between JD(U) and BJP
with the former insisting that no steps should be taken which
would antagonise the minority voters. Hindutva hardliners like
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Varun Gandhi have
been kept away from the election campaign, reportedly at the
insistence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Though the two parties have continued with their
alliance and also have the same seat-sharing arrangement as
in 2005, JD(U) has avoided a joint campaign with BJP. The
advertisements in media and newspapers, would however be under
the NDA banner.

But BJP has denied that JD(U) has put such conditions.

"Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav had said in Patna last
week that Advani is most welcome to campaign in Bihar. I
talked to Nitish Kumar today and he asked me to inform the
national media that he has no issues," Prasad said.

Interestingly, Kumar has himself not contradicted these
media reports about Advani`s campaign.

On joint campaign, Prasad maintained that even in the
earlier vidhan sabha and general elections leaders of the two
parties never campaigned together and the practice of BJP
leaders campaigning for JD(U) candidates also and vice versa-
as is being done this time-was adopted.

"Of the 38 constituencies that BJP is contesting in the
first two phases, Kumar has campaigned for us in 15 seats till
now," Prasad said.

Asked if a joint JD(U)-BJP rally towards the end of the
campaign would be held as per the custom, Prasad appeared
unsure, saying, "We may hold a joint rally."

PTI

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