Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
Agra: Undeterred by criticism from rival political parties, the BJP on Thursday honoured two of its MLAs Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana, who have been accused of inciting communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, in Agra where its PM candidate Narendra Modi is due to address a rally later.
The MLAs were felicitated by party president Rajnath Singh, who said that the two were falsely implicated in the riots case by the UP government. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is also the party`s star campaigner, was not present during the event.
The two MLAs wee arrested and charged by the Uttar Pradesh government under NSA for inciting communal tension in the district. However, the two are currently out on bail.
The main opposition party, BJP, has been strongly defending the two MLAs. "Our leaders were charged under the National Securities Act to defame them in the Muzaffarnagar riots case. But the court had held these charges to be baseless. They are our leaders and we will certainly honour them in our rallies," BJP leader Kalraj Mishra said recently.
In an earlier rally in UP, Modi too alleged that the Samajwadi Party government has been trying to defame the BJP by sending the two MLAs to jail on baseless charges.
Congress has strongly objected to the BJP`s decision, claiming it will create a `hate situation` while the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh said it reflected the saffron party`s culture.
BJP president Rajnath Singh recently said that he was not aware of the decision but accused the SP government of targeting his party as a `face saving` measure in the Muzaffarnagar riots in September in which 60 people were killed.
Singh said the two MLAs were not involved in the communal violence for which the state government should be blamed.
"These two MLAs were lodged in jail and NSA was slapped on them by the Samajwadi Party government. The party will be felicitating them at Modi`s rally in Agra and tell the people the truth about Muzaffarnagar riots", BJP state spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak also said.
Som, who was arrested for his alleged role in inciting communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, was recently released on bail by a Deoband court. He was accused of uploading a fake video that played a role in provoking communal tension in Muzaffarnagar. He is also facing allegations of having made inflammatory speeches.
Rana was arrested from Lucknow on September 20 for his alleged role in fanning the communal violence which left 62 persons dead and rendered 40,000 homeless.
"If the MLAs are involved (in violence) and BJP felicitates then it will show that the BJP is involved," said AICC General Secretary Madhusudan Mistry, who is in-charge of Uttar Pradesh. "It (felicitation) will create a hate situation. We deplore it," he added.
Criticising the move, SP leader Naresh Agarwal said the BJP move was not surprising as it reflected their `culture`.