A worker uses a sewing machine to produce Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) merchandise in a manufacturing unit at the Sadar Bazaar market in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Ruhani Kaur/Bloomberg)

BJP Nominates a Hindu Radical Accused of Plotting Bomb Blasts

(Bloomberg) -- India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has nominated a Hindu radical, who’s accused of plotting bomb blasts, as its candidate in a vital constituency to lure followers of the nation’s dominant religion.

Pragya Singh Thakur will be the party’s candidate from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh against opposition Congress party’s Digvijay Singh. The BJP lost control of the state legislature to Congress in elections held in December. Thakur, who is on bail, is facing charges of planning blasts in 2008 in neighboring Maharashtra state that killed six people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP is betting that religious and populist nationalism -- highlighting Indian Air Force airstrikes on Feb. 26 to attack a terrorist training camp inside Pakistan, symbolically renaming cities and allocating almost $600 million to a mass Hindu pilgrimage -- can shore up its chances of being re-elected.

BJP has accused the Congress party of coining the phrase “Hindu terror’’ and putting false cases against religious activists when it was in power. The ruling party has decided to take the matter to the "people’s court" by fielding Thakur against Congress’s Singh, BJP President Amit Shah said while addressing a rally on Wednesday.

WHAT TO WATCH:

  • Modi to address rallies on Thursday in Gujarat, Karnataka and Kerala
  • Congress President Rahul Gandhi to address rallies Thursday in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat
  • Polling underway in 95 constituencies on Thursday
  • Congress promises to provide 72,000 rupees ($1,038) annually to poor families
  • India’s communist party to halt sale of state companies if it wins elections

IN THE MEDIA:

  • BJP plans to counter caste arithmetic in Uttar Pradesh: HT
  • Guide To second phase of voting in general elections: Bloomberg Quint
  • In second phase of polling, opposition alliances hold the key: HT
  • BJP Surya’s old tweets reveal his communal past: HuffPost

ELECTION & MARKETS:

  • BJP-led NDA may retain power and equity markets already factor in this possibility partially, as reflected in improved foreign and domestic flows, Mahesh Nandurkar and Abhinav Sinha of CLSA Research wrote in an investor note on April 15. The policies of BJP are usually fiscally conservative, with government spending directed more toward investment, while Congress policies in the recent past have tended to be fiscally less conservative with higher spending on direct welfare and subsidies.
  • While skirmishes with Pakistan have refocused voters’ minds on national security, the BJP remains vulnerable to economic issues such as unemployment and farm distress, Nomura analysts Sonal Varma and Aurodeep Nandi said in a note on April 11. Despite the popularity of Prime Minister Modi, there could be a sentiment against incumbents at the constituency level.
  • READ: As World’s Largest Democracy Votes, Here’s Where Markets Stand
  • READ: How to diversify as India vote rocks most-expensive Asian stocks

LATEST COMMENTS:

  • “BJP government is anti-poor. It suddenly realized that poor people need to be given cheap rations only three days ago. The realization came after the BJP understood that it is facing defeat in the first phase of polls in Odisha,” Biju Janata Dal President and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said at a rally.
  • “Confidence in Congress and NCP is on decline as they are not talking about their idea of India. Their only agenda is to dethrone Modi. They do not have any idea of increasing the importance of country globally,” Modi said in a rally on the Congress-led opposition.

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ECONOMY:

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  • History Suggests India Rupee Is Set for a Post-Election Hangover
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  • India’s Central Bank to Issue New Rules on Bad Debt Resolution

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QUICKTAKE:

  • Your Guide to India’s Upcoming General Election
  • Why Election Goodies Await India’s Struggling Farmers
  • Why India’s Lower Castes Could Hold Key to Election

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