BJP kicks off ‘love jihad’ controversy in UP, Akhilesh Govt fumes

A day after the BJP's Uttar Pradesh unit accused the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government of promoting and patronizing "love jihad" in the state during its two-day state executive meet in Vrindavan, the party on Sunday distanced itself from the controversial issue.

The party has also denied having it as part of its agenda for discussion during the two-day state executive council meet in Mathura.

What is love jihad?

The term "love jihad" was coined by Hindu groups for alleged efforts by young Muslims reportedly targeting non-Muslim girls by luring them to marry and later converting them to Islam.

As per a Firstpost report, "Allegation of this kind was first pointed out by some activists in Kerala more than a decade ago and it has surfaced in Uttar Pradesh in the last few years," said Prof Rahul Shukla at Lucknow University.

What was said at BJP's meet?

The BJP had reportedly discussed this issue on Friday at length how this menace is emerging as a big threat to the girls of Hindu community and even vowed to create awareness about it in the parts of western UP.

As per India Today report, the BJP's UP spokesperson, Vijay Bahadur Pathak, said, "We cannot ignore the social situation in the state when holding our state executive meeting. We are shocked to see a large number of cases in which the victim is a Hindu and the tormentor is a Muslim. It is our responsibility to analyse it and act accordingly."

Addressing the two-day meeting of state party executive committee UP BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai said on Saturday, "Youth should be vigilant against love jihad. Why is the government lenient on those who indulge in such practice? Have they (youth of the minority community) got license to convert the girls of majority community?"

Bajpai added, "Because of the minority appeasement policy of the SP government, the incidents of 'love jihad' are increasing in UP."

Even a party MLA from western UP was quoted as saying, "The trend became visible about seven-eight years ago but has caught momentum in the last two years."

What is Samajwadi Party saying?

UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav dismissed such claims made by the BJP and alleged that those who were raising such issues were "politically motivated".

"Unfortunately, such rumours have travelled to even the United Nations and the US. I don't know how to react to them as a CM. But in most cases, the boys and the girls were known to each other. What can we do if such incidents take place between them? Can we stop the relationship of love? We cannot stop them from communicating with each other over mobile phones. We cannot stop the lovers. It is the age of communication. Some people use it for good but some people misuse it," the CM said.

"You hear the song of BJP MP's film 'Dharmatma'. Will it promote love or not," Yadav told reporters while replying to queries on issue of "love jihad". The Chief Minister was referring to actor-turned politician and Mathura MP Hema Malini's 1975 movie which also starred Feroz Khan.

Mayawati terms it a move to polarize votes

As per another BJP rival in the state Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) it is a move by the BJP to polarize votes ahead of by-polls in the state.

BSP supremo Mayawati said, "The BJP is trying to communalise every possible issue because there are by-polls on 12 Assembly seats in the state in September. It is going to hurt the nation in the coming days."

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