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Thursday, January 28, 2021

No politics: BJP on Sushant Singh Rajput posters in poll-bound Bihar

Just when we thought that Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case couldn’t take an uglier turn, it did. Now the Bharatiya Janata Party’s cultural cell in Bihar has printed out stickers, posters, hoardings with Sushant’s image on it, and the text “Na bhoole hain…na bhoolne denge” (we haven’t forgotten, we won’t let anyone forget) #Justice for Sushant. Although the BJP has clearly stated that it is for no political reason, with the polls to be conducted later this year in the state, this move sure gives out a wrong message.

The BJP cultural cell has already printed out over 30,000 stickers and posters, masks with the images and text, and stuck them on rickshaws, which are considered a huge crowd puller for election campaigns in Bihar. While the CBI is still investigating the case, this political coloring might turn out be detrimental for the intent behind the entire justice for the SSR movement. Let’s find out more about this.

Not just the posters, but the BJP has also been demanding that the proposed Rajgir film city in Nalanda district be named after Sushant Singh Rajput. It had earlier demanded that the Rajiv Nagar Chowk in Patna be renamed the Sushant Singh Chowk — Bihar’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had already forwarded this demand to Roads Minister Nand Kishore Yadav, who is from the BJP.

 

Parties using it as a scapegoat

Varun Kumar Singh, state coordinator of the BJP Kala Sanskriti Manch told news agency ANI about the printing of the masks, posters, and why they have done so. “We have been using these as a sign of a movement to seek justice for the late actor who died in Mumbai,” Mr Singh said. “It is not a political issue but a matter close to my heart. We had demanded a CBI inquiry to probe Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. I had even sent letters to ministers demanding justice for him (Sushant). We started this movement on June 16. He was an artist and so am I,” he added.

The opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress have criticized the ruling party for using death to gain politically. They accused the BJP of exploiting the Sushant Singh Rajput case for campaigning for the upcoming assembly elections in the state. “Nitish Kumar and BJP have no answers for the flood and the administrative failures. To divert the attention of the people, they only have the Sushant and Rhea case,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala. Bihar BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said, “BJP Kala Sanskriti Manch has been working for the welfare of the artists. They are paying tribute to Sushant Singh Rajput and they want justice. It was never a political step but has been done in solidarity.”
Rajeev Ranjan of Nitish Kumar’s JDU stated that the BJP’s move cannot be linked to the assembly elections as the poll dates for Bihar are yet to be announced. “Since the election dates have not yet been disclosed, one cannot connect the actor’s (Sushant) death with the upcoming election in Bihar,” Mr Ranjan claimed, adding, “Instigating someone to commit suicide is the matter of concern.” He even added: “The Maharashtra government was controlling the state police.”

 

The Bihar-Maharashtra tussle

The investigations into the actor’s death had become nothing but a turf war between the police forces of both the states – Maharashtra and Bihar before the CBI took over after the Supreme Court’s verdict. The silent war was also between the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in Maharashtra and the JDU-BJP government in Bihar, who have been all trying to use this case as a scapegoat for their political gains. After Sushant’s father filed an FIR against his girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty in Bihar, the authorities there claimed that the Mumbai Police anyway weren’t doing their job properly. However, soon after that Rhea filed a plea to transfer the case to Maharashtra as the Bandra Police had already been investigating. The Bihar police had argued that the apex court should not intervene as the investigation was ongoing and there was no FIR filed in Mumbai. Also, the Bihar Police was focusing on the allegations by Sushant’s family against Rhea and her family of wrongful confinement, breach of trust, theft, and cheating, along with abetment of suicide, which was raised. On the other hand, the Maharashtra Police had argued seeking that they should be heard before any orders are passed in the case, as the Mumbai police had been conducting a thorough investigation into the actor’s suicide case. They stated that they had questioned several people, and is looking into the bank transactions and financial history of the couple. Back and forth happened between the forces of the two states regarding the case before the apex court’s verdict of transferring the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Bihar had seen this as a win. Soon after the Supreme Court handed over the investigation into the death of Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput to CBI, Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey, who soared to recent prominence during the Bihar-Maharashtra tussle over the probe, said he was very happy. “Today’s verdict has proved that Bihar Police was correct. The way Mumbai Police behaved was illegal.” Rhea in her affidavit to the SC had mentioned that Bihar CM Nitish Kumar was responsible for the FIR against her in Patna filed by Sushant’s family. Commenting on that, DGP Pandey said, “Rhea Chakraborty has no authority to comment of Bihar’s CM. If today Sushant Singh Rajput is getting justice, it is because of the Nitish Kumar.”

BJP’s move can only be seen in a political light given the history of caste playing a major role in the politics of the state. The ruling party’s efforts are being seen as a way to impress the state’s Rajput community for the upcoming elections. However, we cannot blame the BJP alone for this. Parties such as Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, whose support base is mostly the backward caste, have also provided their support to the actor’s cause keeping the Rajput vote in mind. “We were the first to demand a CBI inquiry into the Sushant Singh case,” said JP Yadav, former minister, and a Lalu Prasad confidant. “Tejashwi (Yadav) has visited the family. This has nothing to do with politics. Our state president Jagdanand Singh is a seasoned Rajput leader. This is a question of justice for the death of one of Bihar’s sons.”

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