Monday, November 29, 1999

`Raajneeti` lands BJP in full-blown political controversy

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Jaipur, June 16 (IANS) BJP legislators in Rajasthan locked in a hotel ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls were neck deep in controversy Wednesday for watching a pirated DVD of 'Raajneeti' with a Jaipur citizen filing a criminal complaint and director Prakash Jha threatening legal action.While a furious Jha said he was contemplating action, Jaipur resident Yogendra Singh went ahead and filed a criminal complaint against the Bharatiya Janata Party's chief whip Rajendra Singh Rathore as well as the owner and manager of Hotel Jaipur Greens, where the legislators are holed up, for illegally screening the film.The complaint was filed in the court of the chief judicial magistrate under various sections of the Copyright Act, Information Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code, his lawyer A.K. Jain told IANS, describing Yogendra Singh as an ordinary citizen unconnected with any political party.Sources in the hotel said 66 of the 79 BJP legislators had watched the movie Tuesday.Fearing cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha polls June 17, the state unit of the BJP had put all its 79 legislators in the hotel to prevent horse-trading and defections.'There was fear that the MLAs may not vote for Ram Jethmalani, whom they consider an outsider, so the party decided to huddle them up together and place them in a hotel. This would mean that the chances of horse-trading or defection becomes negligible,' a BJP leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.On Thursday, the legislators would be taken directly to the state assembly for voting.Filmmaker Jha is furious that the legislators watched a pirated version of his latest film.'We are contemplating legal action against illegal screening of the film,' Jha told IANS over the phone. 'This is really bad. How can lawmakers be lawbreakers?''We in the film industry are really disturbed that a film which has just been released is being screened in such an illegal manner... We are seeking legal advice and would certainly take appropriate action against the hotel and the people who have seen the film in this manner.'As the controversy in the state BJP brews, former chief minister and general secretary Vasundhara Raje told reporters that the legislators had been taken to the resort to 'train them on how to vote'.'We want to train them on voting as some of our MLAs are first timers,' Raje said, requesting the Congress 'not to indulge in horse-trading'.There are five candidates fighting for four seats in the upper house of parliament -- Congress' Anand Sharma and Ashk Ali Tak, BJP's Jethmalani and V.P. Singh as well as sitting Congress MP Santosh Bagrodia who is contesting as an independent.Bagrodia did not get a Congress ticket but is being backed by the party.Congress nominee Narendra Budhania was elected June 10 for the fifth seat.The outcome of the elections now relies heavily on non-Congress and non-BJP MLAs.The Congress has 102 legislators in the 200-seat house while the BJP has 79 members.The BJP will need 82 votes to ensure a win for both its candidates. It is confident of getting the support of the lone Janata Dal-U MLA Fateh Singh.The Communist Party of India-Marxist has decided to abstain and the BJP's nominees are likely to sail through if there is no cross-voting.

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