Tempers run high ahead of Lok Sabha elections (Political Roundup)

April 7th, 2009 - 6:57 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) The political temperature was rising ahead of Lok Sabha elections just nine days away with arrest orders against Railway Minister Lalu Prasad for threatening BJP candidate Varun Gandhi, now in jail, and an emotional Sikh journalist hurling a shoe at Home Minister P. Chidambaram at a Congress press conference Tuesday.
As political parties slug it out in what is expected to be one of the toughest general elections, a few candidates, including high profile ones, are stooping low and offending the Election Commission.

On Monday, Lalu Prasad, leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), stunned everyone when he threatened to run a “roller” over Varun Gandhi for his alleged anti-Muslim speeches that have sent him to jail.

Addressing a rally in Kishanganj, 350 km from Patna, he thundered: “If I were the home minister, and if Varun had said this, then I would have run a roller over his chest and thought about the consequences later.”

He also justified the move to jail Varun Gandhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit constituency, as right.

Bihar’s ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U), which too has come out against Varun Gandhi’s speeches, voiced shock over Lalu Prasad’s remarks, saying it was unbecoming of a central minister to speak in this manner.

Kishanganj District Superintendent of Police Ram Narayan Singh Tuesday ordered the arrest of Lalu Prasad on the strength of a criminal complaint filed against the railway minister.

Far away from Bihar, at a press conference in the national capital, Chidambaram swerved to avoid a shoe hurled by journalist Jarnail Singh, who had got into a minor tiff with the minister on the circumstances that led to Congress’ Lok Sabha nominee Jagdish Tytler being exonerated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a case related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

The ugly episode, quickly condemned by almost all political parties, highlighted how temperatures were rising before the polls. Things could get even more out of hand as parties, alliances and their supporters joust and scuffle for supremacy and voter attention.

In Hyderabad, the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) condemned Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s remark that the Andhra Pradesh capital was sitting on a powder keg and had terrorists more dangerous than those in Jammu and Kashmir.

MIM president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi alleged that Modi’s remarks made at a BJP rally Monday were part of a conspiracy to weaken the Muslim leadership. He said he would complain to the Election Commission.

Addressing a public meeting Monday night in the city, Modi said a link to Hyderabad emerged whenever a terrorist incident occurred in Gujarat, Mumbai and other places in the country.

In Uttar Pradesh, Ashok Pradhan, the BJP candidate from the Bulandshahr Lok Sabha constituency, has been booked along with 10 party activists for making provocative statements, police said.

Pradhan, a former union minister, and the others had assembled March 30 at the BJP office in Bulandshahr, about 400 km from Lucknow, and raised allegedly offensive slogans. They were demanding the release of BJP leader Varun Gandhi, now in the Etah jail for his alleged hate speeches.

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