Kiran Bedi: Fatwas impact the freedom of choice to vote

Kiran-BediNEW DELHI: A day after the BJP suffered a rout in the Delhi assembly elections 2015, party’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi has shot off a letter to the Election Commission saying fatwas impact the freedom of choice to vote.

“These fatwas have an impact as they mean a direction. Should EC allow such last moment directions, is it good for democracy?” she was quoted as saying.

“I was told voting for me in Krishna Nagar dropped in places where fatwa was given. I want it to be inquired,” she added.

Kiran Bedi appeared to blame a “fatwa” by Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari, appealing to Muslims to support AAP, for her defeat in BJP’s traditional stronghold of Krishna Nagar in East Delhi and sought a probe into it by the Election Commission.

She said the Election Commission should inquire the issue to know whether the Shahi Imam’s appeal to Muslims a day before the polls had any impact on the electoral outcome.

Bedi claimed that though she was leading in the vote count, her vote share started dropping when counting of votes in a Muslim-dominated area of her constituency was taken up.

“I was told that during the vote count in Krishna Nagar, I was leading but when the counting of votes of the area, where fatwa might have an impact, was carried out, it started to drop,” Bedi said, adding “I lost by 2000 votes when the counting reached that area.”

A day ahead of the polls on February 7, Bukhari appealed to Muslims to vote for AAP but the party promptly rejected the offer. Though it was an appeal by Bukhari, several BJP leaders called it “fatwa”.

“Fatwa means a diktat, a directive, it also means a hukumnama in a way. EC should examine whether fatwas issued last minute before the elections are good for democratic process or not,” added Bedi.

Her comments drew instant criticism from the Congress camp. “BJP saw a downfall since the day Kiran Bedi was nominated,” Congress leader JP Aggarwal said rubbishing her “fatwa” remark.

Bedi’s ambiguous statements had made headlines on Tuesday where she said, “I have not lost. I gave it all my best. Let the BJP introspect. They will assess for themselves.” This was after she took full responsibility of the poll debacle.

Bedi lost to Aam Aadmi Party’s SK Bagga by 2,277 votes from Krishna Nagar, a seat which was considered the safest for BJP. BJP managed to win just three seats in the 70-member assembly.

(Inputs from PTI)

Source: The Times of India