New Delhi: Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy today found himself in a controversy over sharing on Twitter a screenshot of Pakistan's daily Dawn website carrying Nitish Kumar's ad of vote appeal, prompting JD-U to launch a sharp attack on him and seek his immediate sacking.
Rudy, who is Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, got into the row when he shared the screenshot of Dawn website on his Twitter handle showing a poll advertisement of Nitish Kumar.
"Nitish advertises in PAKISTAN daily '"DAWN" e-edition to woo voters in Bihar. Why Pak? Whom does he want to reach?" Rudy tweeted. However, the remarks led to an outrage on social media, after which he deleted the post.
Scores of twitteratis castigated Rudy over his "ignorance" about Google ads and questioned his knowledge of the cyber world arguing that Google provides ads on any site based on the reader's locations and browsing habits and insisted that it's not an ad in "Dawn".
JD-U general secretary K C Tyagi wondered how the minister can promote skills in the country if he himself is so "unskilled".
"After BJP chief Amit Shah's statement that there will be "firecrackers in Pakistan" if NDA loses polls in Bihar, Rudy has accused Kumar of giving an ad in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, which is ridiculous and betrays his ignorance. Rudy had on October 30 evening posted this particular screenshot of Dawn newspaper on his Twitter account, which was deleted after it was mocked at on social media.
"The Prime Minister is talking big about digital India but this unskilled attempt by his Skill Minister has raised a question mark on his campaign. What role such ministers will play in skill development when they betray such lack of skills. He should have known that such advertisements are part of automatic Google ad," Tyagi said.
Asking for "immediate sacking", the JD-U general secretary said BJP should "explain why the statements of its senior leaders nowadays are Pakistan-centric".
Commenting on the Election Commission's ban on two controversial ads of BJP in Bihar after finding them as 'having the potential of creating mutual hatred', Tyagi and nominated Rajya Sabha MP K T S Tulsi stepped up the attack on the rival warning of "strict action" under criminal law against BJP leaders.
"Since the offences in the opinion of the Election Commission have already been committed, there is no escape from the process of law being set in motion against those who have authorized the publication of offending advertisements.
To ensure peace and tranquility during the remainder of the election process, it is of utmost importance that strict action against the offenders be initiated at the earliest.
"If the action is delayed, it may embolden the frustrated and demoralized cadre of BJP to take law in their own hands, which may result in violence and cause loss of lives and properties of people belonging to one or other groups mentioned in the advertisements," they said at a press conference.
In a strongly-worded advisory to Chief Electoral Officer of Bihar Ajay Naik, the Commission yesterday asked him to ensure that the two advertisements are not published in any newspaper or journal from tomorrow onwards till the election process is over.
One of the advertisements alleges that RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar are "snatching the plate of dalits" by planning to transfer the quota meant for dalits and EBCs to minorities.
Another advertisement deals with 'vote ki kheti' or votebank politics and claimed that RJD, JD-U and Congress leaders are "giving santuary" to terrorists to appease a particular community for votes.
"The Commission is of the firm view that both the advertisements have the potential of aggravating the differences between different classes of citizens of India and also creating mutual hatred, ill-will and disharmony," the panel noted in its communication last night.
Repeatedly referring to the EC's observations, Tyagi and Tulsi said that those involved in promoting enmity between different groups of people in the name of religion or caste must be taken to task to prevent repetition of similar conduct.
"The advertisements specifically refer to dalits and backwards on the one hand and minorties on the other. Thus, the offence with regard to section 153 A of Indian Penal Code is clearly made out," Tulsi said.
Replying to queries, Tyagi expressed confidence that the Mahagthbandhan will form a government in Bihar. Mocking Amit Shah's "firecrackers in Pakistan remark", Tyagi said that a "defeat" of his party will "gladden" the heart of many within BJP itself.
"The greatest happiness over Modi's defeat in Bihar will among half a dozen cabinet ministers of NDA government, leaders of BJP and those in Margdarshak Mandal of that party and not in Pakistan. Pakistan will prefer this Prime Minister under whose rule frequent incursions are happening," he said.
On the reservation issue, he said that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is ready to debate with Modi on it in Delhi, Patna or Ahmedabad.
Rejecting the Prime Minister's charge that Mahagathbandhan leaders are trying to "steal" 5 percent from quota to give it to a particular community, he said "no leader of the alliance has sought reservation in the name of religion".