In the run-up to the Bihar elections, the BJP has now attacked the Opposition Congress over one of its candidates, sparking a war of words between the two camps. The Congress had given a ticket to former Aligarh Muslim University Students' Union President, Maskoor Ahmad Usmani. He will be contesting the polls from the Jale assembly segment in Darbhanga district.
BJP leader Giriraj Singh had earlier trained his guns at the Congress-RJD alliance, alleging that a "sympathiser" of Mohammad Ali Jinnah was being fielded. He was apparently making a reference to news reports that had said that Jinnah's portrait was found in the office of Aligarh Muslim University Students' Union at the time when Usmani had been the President.
"Now, leaders of Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) will have to answer to the people of the country whether they also support the ideology of Pakistan's founder," he had asked.
Violence had broken out at the Aligarh Muslim University campus in Uttar Pradesh two years ago as the row over Muhammad Ali Jinnah's portrait on the campus triggered a protest. At the time, the AMU spokesperson had noted that Jinnah was a founding member of the University and had been granted life membership of the student union. As such, his photo was placed on the walls of the Union. This, they had said, was a tradition of all life members.
The allegation on Saturday prompted a response from the Congress, with party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala accusing the BJP of trying to "divert attention".
"Our Jale candidate never aligned with Jinnah's ideology. When he was an AMU student, he wrote to PM for removal of Jinnah's portrait from AMU, Parliament and Bombay HC. But PM Modi never responded," Surjewala said.
Elections for the 243-member Bihar Assembly will be held in three phases -- October 28, November 3 and November 7. The coalition of the RJD, Congress and Left parties is the main challenger to the ruling JD(U)-BJP alliance in the elections.
(With inputs from agencies)