The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Clash of lotus cash & bribe video

New Delhi, April 25: The BJP pointed towards a bribe video and the Congress flashed currency notes wrapped in the lotus symbol as the bitter edge to campaigning sharpened with exit and opinion polls holding little cheer for either side on the eve of the second phase of polling.

Congress ka haath brashtachar ke saath (The Congress is hand in glove with corruption)” was the slogan from the BJP, which demanded a probe into video CDs allegedly showing members of the erstwhile Congress government in Rajasthan taking bribes.

“We demand a high-level inquiry into the episode in Rajasthan during Congress rule showing its ministers and the brother of former chief minister Ashok Gehlot accepting bribe,” BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

Why were the CDs, claimed to have been shot a year ago (Gehlot was voted out last November), released only last night' asked the Congress, describing it as a BJP conspiracy.

It hit back by accusing the ruling party of misusing nationalised banks and requesting the Election Commission to take immediate action over what it claimed to be the discovery of a Rs 10,000 bundle of notes wrapped in paper carrying the BJP’s lotus symbol.

Spokesman Anand Sharma said this was a violation of the code of conduct. The bundle was received from Allahabad Bank, Vasundhara Enclave, in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, he added.

Corruption was again the weapon of attack for the BJP which said the needle of suspicion in the Bofors scam pointed towards Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress, in turn, asked if a nation’s destiny could be trusted to a person who was “confused” and “absent-minded”.

Sharma cited instances of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s forgetfulness at recent election meetings. According to reports, Vajpayee could not recall the name of the Chhapra candidate and civil aviation minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, took Indira’s name in place of Sonia at another rally and in Chhattisgarh the name of his niece who is contesting the poll escaped him.

Videos, made notorious in last year’s Chhattisgarh polls where the two sides engaged in tit-for-tat dirty tricks, were on the BJP’s mind, this time in a different context. Naqvi alleged that the Rashtriya Janata Dal-Congress combine in Bihar and the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh were conniving with criminals to rig the polls. As a precautionary measure, the BJP will instal 500 video cameras in sensitive booths.

The Congress did not like what it saw, too, in the visuals being used by a pro-BJP Muslim yatra. The Himayat Committee, it said, was displaying a portrait of President Pervez Musharraf in its Uttar Pradesh campaign to drum up support for Vajpayee.

“We want to know whether the Prime Minister’s Himayat (support) Committee yatra is displaying Musharraf’s portrait to lure Muslims. It is insensitive and sheer opportunism and an insult to Indian Muslims as it questions their patriotism,” Sharma said.

The Congress wants to know “whether the portraits of Vajpayee and L.K. Advani would be displayed when there will be elections in Pakistan”, he added.

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