VHP leader’s murder, riots major issues in OrissaApril 7th, 2009 - 11:42 am ICT by IANS
By Jatindra Dash
Bhubaneswar, April 7 (IANS) The killing of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader last year and the communal violence it triggered in Orissa have become major election campaign issues.
At one rally after another, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which ended their 11-year alliance last month, are blaming each other for the violence.
Predictably, the Congress is accusing both the BJP and the BJD for letting the violence rage on for days.
It was in Kandhamal district, 200 km from here, that VHP’s Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides were shot dead at his ashram Aug 23, 2008.
Thirty-eight people were killed and more than 25,000 Christians forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by mobs. About 3,170 people are still in relief camps.
Orissa goes to the polls to elect 21 Lok Sabha and 147 assembly members on April 16 and 23.
At most campaign rallies, BJP leaders have been criticising the chief minister for failing to protect Hindus.
“The spirit of Swami Laxmanananda will shatter the dreams of Naveen Patnaik,” Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi thundered at a public rally here Sunday.
He accused Patnaik of not arresting the killers “because of vote bank politics” — a Hindu nationalist euphemism to mean minorities.
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj also accused Patnaik of not doing enough to nab the killers.
“The government sat quietly after the killing while the Swami’s killers roamed free,” Swaraj told a meeting here.
The BJP has nominated Manoj Pradhan, an accused in the riots, for the assembly election from G. Udayagiri constituency in the district. He was arrested about four months ago and is still in jail.
Ashok Sahu, a firebrand Hindu leader linked to the VHP, is contesting for the Phulbani Lok Sabha seat.
The BJD has accused the BJP of playing the communal card to grab votes. “The BJP is a communal party and it has a communal agenda,” Patnaik told a public meeting at Bolangir Sunday.
BJD Rajya Sabha member Pyari Mohan Mohapatra said the coalition collapsed because the BJP and its affiliates were involved in the communal riots and tried to whip up communal passions.
Congress leaders are targeting both the BJP and the BJD, blaming them for the communal divide in Kandhamal.
Addressing an election rally in western Orissa’s Bargarh town April 2, Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked the people to be vigilant vis-a-vis “divisive forces”.
“The people of Orissa are peace-loving but seeds of hatred are being sown by some outfits in the name of religion and caste. Kandhamal is an example,” she said.
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- Kandhamal riots could have been avoided: Ex-minister - Mar 09, 2011
- BJP to make VHP leader's murder poll issue in Orissa (Lead) - Mar 16, 2009
- BJP lawmaker gets seven-year jail for Kandhamal murder - Jun 29, 2010
- 14 get jail terms for Kandhamal riots - Nov 20, 2010
- Orissa gives subsidised rice to riots victims - Oct 25, 2010
- Kandhamal BJP candidate booked for hate speech - Apr 11, 2009
- 18 acquitted in Kandhamal riot cases - Jan 29, 2011
- Naveen Patnaik could have prevented Saraswati's murder: BJP ex-minister - Mar 10, 2011
- Convicted BJP legislator gets bail in Kandhamal murder - Mar 18, 2011
- Kandhamal riots case: Man gets three-year jail term - Sep 29, 2010
- Protests in Orissa as Togadia barred from Kandhamal (Lead) - Mar 20, 2010
- 10 kg land mine recovered in Kandhamal - Oct 29, 2011
Tags: assembly election, assembly members, bharatiya janata party, bjd, bjp leaders, campaign issues, campaign rallies, communal card, communal violence, hindu leader, Lok Sabha, narendra modi, naveen patnaik, public rally, relief camps, sahu, sushma, vhp, vishwa hindu parishad, vote bank