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BJP drums up Sushant campaign, RJD says ‘cheap politics’

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has drummed up its campaign demanding justice for Bollywood celebrity Sushant Singh Rajput though rivals accused it of giving a political colour to the actor’s suspected suicide ahead of the state elections due in October-November.

The BJP’s cultural cell has made car stickers with the message, “na bhule hai, na bhulne denge (we have not forgotten, we will not forget)”, a photograph of Rajput and the BJP’s symbol. The party has also made masks with his name written on it.

“We have been campaigning for justice to Sushant since June. He ruled the hearts of youth,” said Varun Kumar Singh, the convenor of the BJP cultural cell.

Singh said the BJP has requested chief minister Nitish Kumar to rename a proposed film city at Rajgir and Rajiv Nagar Chowk, near the actor’s residence in Patna, after him.

Rajput’s cousin, Neeraj Kumar Singh ‘Babluu’, is a BJP MLA from Chhatapur assembly seat.

BJP Nikhil Anand justified the cultural cell initiative. “Sushant is the son of the soil who represented Bihar in Bollywood. His untimely death has been a shock to all of us…Bihar BJP has stood by the demand of justice for Sushant…There should be no political interpretation to the genuine concern expressed by any forum of Bihar BJP,” he said.

However, the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) was not convinced and called it “cheap politics.” “It is bad to give it (the issue) a political colour,” said RJD spokesperson Mirtunjay Tiwary. But he was quick to add that it was RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav who raised the demand for a CBI probe into the actor’s death.

Rajput was found hanging at his Mumbai apartment on June 14 in what police said appeared to be an open-and-shut case of suicide. The post-mortem report ruled out any foul play. After a two-week quiet, a political controversy erupted over the death, as a Bihar police team constituted to probe the case on a complaint by the actor’s family alleged it got no cooperation from its Mumbai counterpart.

The jurisdictional turf war spilled into the legal arena as the Supreme Court was approached to decide if CBI could investigate the matter. The issue became deeply acrimonious and divisive at multiple levels — between the families of Rajput and his girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, between the actors’ respective sets of fans, between the governments of the two states in question, and between the BJP and its former ally Shiv Sena — and left the entertainment industry split vertically.

The case opened up a raging debate in and about the industry, devolving into a war of words and allegations between two camps largely made up of “insiders” (with generational links to Bollywood) and “outsiders” (first-generation actors and filmmakers). Chakraborty and her supporters alleged that the Bihar government was trying to hijack the emotive issue for political capital ahead of the upcoming state elections to the 243-member assembly.

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