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This Means War! Cong, BJP Fight With CDs

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The fate of many stalwarts like Sonia Gandhi, Narendra Modi, L K Advani and Rajnath Singh will be decided on April 30 in the seventh phase of Lok Sabha election in 89 seats, where the high-decibel campaign has been marked by vicious personal attacks by leaders.

Congress on Monday (28 April) joined a war of CDs with BJP by releasing a video purportedly showing Narendra Modi in pictures with one Afroz Fatta arrested in connection with a Rs,1000-crore hawala racket and dared him to submit himself to an independent probe.

Claiming Fatta to be a "well known BJP supporter and a protege of Modi", party spokesman Randeep Surjewala told reporters that he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate of Ahmedabad and Surat which unearthed a major hawala racket after carrying out a raid at his residence.

Narendra Modi In Varanasi         (Reuters)
The Congress CD came a day after BJP released a video CD targeting Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi and husband of Priyanka Gandhi, over his alleged land deals. BJP has used the emergence of Priyanka Gandhi as a star election campaigner for the troubled Congress party to criticise the wealth amassed by her businessman husband and score points in a wrangle over crony capitalism

Congress has already dismissed the charges as trash.

Maintaining that the racket, according to ED, exceeds Rs 1,000 crore and can extend to Rs 5,000 crore and the transaction of underworld money through the hawala route is suspected, Surjewala posed a number of questions.

Cosy ties between business and politics are a big issue in the elections after a run of scandals weakened the Congress-led government, paralysed decision-making and stifled investment.

Priyanka, who bears a striking resemblance to her grandmother, former prime minister Indira Gandhi, is seen by many as the Congress party's best hope to revive its fortunes after a lacklustre campaign led by her brother, Rahul Gandhi.

Halfway through the five-week election, the party thrust her into the limelight after opinion polls showed the Congress-led government was set for a crushing defeat at the hands of opposition candidate Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Priyanka-Modi CD War Escalates Fast
Priyanka Gandhi in Amethi      (PTI)
Priyanka went on the offensive at the weekend, mocking the stocky Hindu nationalist's boast that India needed a strong leader like him to bring change: "A 56-inch chest is not needed to run this country, a big heart is needed to run it," she said.

That brought a swift response from the BJP, which stepped up its offensive on her husband, Robert Vadra, with a mocking video alleging that states ruled by the Congress party had awarded him sweetheart land deals.

Seeking to take the moral high ground, Congress has in turn suggested infrastructure billionaire Gautam Adani was granted favours in the state of Gujarat, where Modi has been chief minister since 2001.

Shah Battles For Modi
Shortly after the Congress charge, Amit Shah, Modi's close confidante, tweeted a picture of Congress MP Mohd Azharuddin purportedly seen with Fatta.

Reacting to the Congress attack, BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said while the party would give a detailed reaction later she sought to dismiss it saying anyone can get photographed with a public personality and that cannot be held against him.

"What is the nature of relationship, connection and protection offered by Modi to Fatta, the alleged hawala kingpin who features in a number of photos along with the Gujarat Chief Minister in various social and political functions"? Surjewala said.

Surjewala said the pictures of Fatta on the website of Modi holding meetings in the Chief Minister's office as also on the website of Gujarat BJP reflect the relationship of proximity that needs to be examined and investigated.

"Whether Narendra Modi will agree to submit himself to an independent probe through an agency outside Gujarat to determine his connection or absence thereof to this hawala racket of great magnitude....If he has nothing to hide, he should submit himself to an independent probe," Surjewala said.

Wondering whose money running into Rs 1,000 crore or more was being transmitted through the hawala racket, Surejwala said there is a need to find out in what shape and what purpose this money was being brought back in India and put to what use.

"Whether the complete complacency of Modi and his government to one of the biggest hawala rackets being run in Surat under their nose and eye points towards their complicity or indifference to upholding the law and checking nefarious elements involved in anti-national activities?", he said.

Noting that four shooters of underworld don Babloo Srivastav had shot at one Amjad Dalal, brother of Afzal Dalal, who is a partner of Fatta, Surjewala wanted to know what is the connection of this racket to the underworld and Babloo.

"How is he (Babloo) seeking a stake in the money being channelised through hawala racket? Do Modi and others have any connection to these underworld criminals?" he said.

Phase 7 Of The Election On 30 Apr
The seventh lap of the nine-phase elections covers constituencies in seven states, including all seats in Gujarat (26), Telangana (17) and Punjab (13), and 2 Union Territories, with over 1,000 candidates in the fray .

Gandhi's Rae Bareli constituency, which saw Priyanka Gandhi taking up the cudgels on her mother's behalf, Modi's Vadodara constituency, Gandhinagar where Advani is contesting, and Singh's Lucknow seat are among those going to polls on Wednesday.

Modi spearheaded the BJP campaign blitzkrieg, attacking Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on the issue of development, corruption and raking up her son-in-law Robert Vadra's land deals.

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul led the Congress offencive, accusing Modi and BJP of being divisive and communal and against the "very idea of India".

Rahul raked up the issue of Modi's alleged links to Adani group while Priyanka, who is campaigning in Amethi and Rae Bareli, took on BJP for targeting her husband, saying the party was "scurrying like panic-stricken rats".

The vote canvassing exercise was dominated by a series of barbs, charges and counter-charges by arch rivals SAD-BJP alliance and Congress.

Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party also added to the high voltage drama by fielding in contestants at all 13 seats against the two main claimants.

Top leaders from across the political spectrum - Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Prakash Karat, Mayawati, Arvind Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav criss- crossed the roads and airspace of Punjab, lighting up the electoral battle that is poised for a close finish.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has maintained a low profile during this polls, avoided campaigning in Punjab.

Modi himself addressed five back-to-back rallies on a single day.

Glamour was added to the canvassing with film stars including Akshaye Khanna, Vivek Oberoi, Kirron Kher, Gul Panag, Manoj Tewary, Poonam Dhillon, Sunny Deol and Suniel Shetty too seeking votes besides cricketer Gautam Gambhir and former cricketer Bishen Singh Bedi.

Besides Operation Bluestar, plight of Sikh farmers in Gujarat, unemployment, political vendetta, law and order situation and drug trade were the issues that hogged limelight.