The Congress on Thursday criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party’s nomination of Karan Bhushan Singh, son of former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, from the Kaiserganj Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh and called it a “new low”.

Brij Bhushan is facing accusations of sexual abuse from six women wrestlers. The Delhi Police registered a first information report against him in April 2023, following the intervention of the Supreme Court.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleged that the Opposition INDIA bloc insulted the Constitution by asking Muslims to carry out “vote jihad”, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge urged him to seek votes based on his government’s performance rather than engage in hate speech.

The INDIA bloc is a coalition of Opposition parties that is taking on the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in the general elections.

Here’s a look at today’s top developments:

  • Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Thursday remarked that the BJP had “no moral compass”, after the Hindutva party fielded Karan Bhushan Singh, who is former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s son, as its candidate from Uttar Pradesh’s Kaiserganj. “Just when we thought that the Prajwal Revanna scandal had exposed the depths of the BJP’s depravity, they show that there are always new lows for them to fall to,” Ramesh said, referring to the allegations of sexual abuse against Karnataka MP Prajwal Revanna and his father, former state minister HD Revanna. “This is a party with no moral compass, led by a man whose only anchor is his desire for boundless power” the Congress leader said. Brij Bhushan has been booked under Indian Penal Code sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354-A (sexual harassment), 354-D (stalking) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Anand district, Gujarat, on Thursday claimed that the INDIA bloc had asked Muslims to launch a “vote jihad”, NDTV reported. “INDI alliance is saying that all Muslims should get together and vote,” he said. “The INDI alliance has insulted democracy and the Constitution.” The prime minister was referring to Samajwadi Party leader Maria Alam’s remarks a few days earlier. Alam had allegedly asked Muslim voters at a rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Farrukhabad constituency to launch a “vote jihad” to remove the current government. The term “jihad” in Islam is meant to denote an effort or struggle. Following her remarks, the Uttar Pradesh Police registered a case against Alam and Congress leader Salman Khurshid, her uncle, who was also at the gathering. On Thursday, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge urged Modi to seek votes on the basis of his government’s performance over the last ten years “instead of indulging in hate speech”.
  • The Trinamool Congress on Thursday released its list of 40 star campaigners for the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal. Star campaigners are individuals who parties believe could have greater influence on voters. The Trinamool Congress’ list includes West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and former Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, among others. Kunal Ghosh, who was removed as the party’s general secretary a day earlier, did not feature in the list.
  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday urged Muslims not to be “ensnared” by the Opposition that “are trying to get your votes by kicking sand in your face”, PTI reported. Singh, while speaking at a series of rallies in Bihar, said that Modi had been conferred with highest honours in at least five Islamic countries. “And they [the Opposition] have the temerity of charging us with [creating divisions] between Hindus and Muslims,” Singh said. “I would, however, urge my Muslim brethren not to be ensnared by these people, the parties like RJD [Rashtriya Janata Dal] and Congress, which are trying to get your votes by kicking sand in your face.”