Bhopal, Sept. 24: Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh was drawn into a spat with the Madhya Pradesh BJP today after making allegations about a ploy to show off Muslim participation at Narendra Modi’s Bhopal rally tomorrow.
Digvijaya claimed the BJP had got 10,000 burqas stitched for the event and alleged the director of a Bhopal-based real estate firm had paid Rs 42 lakh to the tailor.
“(The company director) personally came to Indore and paid Rs 42 lakh in advance to Zeenat Tailors, who had issued a bill for Rs 44.60 lakh,” Digvijaya said in Indore. He showed the media what he claimed was the bill issued by Zeenat Tailors.
Digvijaya further alleged that 10,000 topis (skullcaps) had been ordered from Lucknow. “I will place that bill before you, as well,” he said.
The controversy comes amid a buzz that the BJP has been striving to ensure a sizeable Muslim presence, in burqas and skullcaps, at Modi’s meetings, such as the one in Jaipur this month.
Zeenat Tailors’ owner, Dinesh, denied Digvijaya’s allegation. “Somebody had come two days ago seeking quotations for burqas but no orders were placed,” he said, describing himself as “politically neutral”.
Local BJP leaders led by state industry minister Kailash Vijayvargiya got into the act and, by evening, Zeenat Tailors had filed a police complaint about someone forging a bill in its name.
Vijayvargiya said: “I urge chief minister (Shivraj Singh) Chouhan to keep special vigil on Digvijaya Singh as he has a knack for spreading falsehood.”
The head of the state BJP’s media cell, Deepak Vijayvargiya, accused Digvijaya of producing a “fake” bill. “The Congress has done similar things in the past,” he alleged.
Late this evening, Chouhan too described Digvijaya’s allegation as “a fabrication” and said: “Digvijaya Singhji seems to be losing credibility and indulging in antics to entertain people.”
However, the chief of the state BJP’s minority cell, Hidayatullah Sheikh, appeared to put his foot in his mouth when he enthusiastically declared that Muslims had been encouraged to attend Modi’s rally wearing their “traditional dress”, such as the burqa, topi and sherwani.
“Our effort will be to ensure they look like Muslims and (turn out in) strength,” he said, claiming more than 50,000 Muslims were expected at the event.
“The minority cell has asked its district units and office-bearers to ensure maximum participation.”
However, Sanawar Patel, a BJP leader and head of the state Haj committee, said: “Muslims are as much a part of the BJP as other communities are. There have been no special efforts to bring Muslims (to tomorrow’s meeting) in their traditional attire or in topis and burqas.”
Both Chouhan and state BJP chief Narendra Singh Tomar denied having asked local leaders to bring Muslims wearing topis or burqas. Party national vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi too criticised Digvijaya.
“We don’t need to distribute burqas or caps to ensure turnouts at our rallies. We knew Digvijaya Singhji as a leader of the Congress but for the first time we are seeing him as a leader interested in the buying and selling of burqas,” Naqvi said.
Madhya Pradesh votes in November. Tomorrow’s rally marks Modi’s first appearance in Bhopal since being declared his party’s candidate for Prime Minister.
|One of the countdown clocks
in Delhi ticks away on Tuesday.
Picture by Yasir Iqbal
Unveiled on Tuesday, the first of the 100-odd countdown clocks ticks away
100 LED screens, each 6ft x 8ft, to be installed across the city for live telecast of Modi’s rally
The BJP is also carting to the rally site a 55ft x 25ft LED screen from Gujarat to make its candidate for Prime Minister appear larger than life. The BJP is expecting 5 lakh people to turn up
As in Vikas. The event has been named Vikas Rally. “We hope to see Narendra Modiji replicate Gujarat’s development across India,” says Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel
As in badlenge (will bring change). The BJP slogan for the occasion: “Badlenge Dilli, Badlenge Bharat”
Is it a chopper?
Loud hints that Modi will land in a chopper. But no security clearance yet. Besides, not clear if Modi will heed Moily’s call to patriots to save fuel
The BJP has been advertising the rally on local FM channels and has launched a poster war on Delhi’s streets. The BJP has bought up at least 250 advertising sites in Delhi to display its posters. An agency, Show Craft, will handle the technical and creative aspects of the rally
A line array loudspeaker system will
be put in place, which means the speakers will be suspended 24 feet above the ground to ensure uniform distribution of sound.
“When the speakers are placed on the ground, those in the front rows have to suffer while those in the back rows barely hear anything. In the line array system, everyone will be able to hear equally well,” said a BJP functionary
A pandal will come up on the ground to shelter the audience from the harsh September sun. Arthritic and unfit Modi admirers need not worry: the BJP promises seating arrangements that preclude the need to squat. As many as 3,000 buses are being hired to ferry the crowd
Lunch will be served by the BJP for those attending the rally. Nearly 2,000 volunteers will be on call
The rally budget. “We are bearing only part of the expenses, many of these are sponsored by our supporters. We cannot reveal our sponsors at present,” Goel added. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) spokesperson Kumar Vishwas said:
“It is ironical that the BJP has to spend crores to get across the message of their so-called tallest. It is depressing that they talk about corruption but spend crores on a single rally.”
BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj are likely to give the rally a miss. Besides the usual reasons, there is another one: Goel does not get along with many Delhi leaders
COMPILED BY SOBHANA K.