As the poster war in Gujarat between Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his bête noir Sanjay Joshi continues, three people were arrested in Surat today for allegedly trying to put up posters carrying anti-government slogans.
The men were reportedly arrested after a truck they were travelling in, along with the posters, was stopped by BJP workers. There were four people in the tempo; one managed to flee. The remaining three were then handed over to the police.
Cases have been reportedly registered against the four men under section 505 (b) of the Indian Penal Code for intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public.
Just yesterday, on the second day of the BJP's state executive meeting in Gujarat, posters supporting Mr Joshi appeared in Rajkot - the venue of that meeting. The posters were removed by BJP workers soon after they appeared.
Outside the venue of the two-day meeting, supporters of Mr Modi's rival Sanjay Joshi wore Joshi masks to drive home the point that much had changed from five years ago when Mr Modi had led the party's election campaign with the firm backing of everyone in the Sangh Parivar. This time Mr Modi faces deep divisions in the party cadres.
Last Tuesday, signs of the chasm within the BJP were on display - posters appeared across Ahmedabad praising Mr Joshi. The posters also said those with narrow minds cannot be big leaders, a swipe at Mr Modi. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the posters, which were also posted in Delhi outside the BJP's office.
Mr Joshi, seen as Chief Minister Narendra Modi's fiercest political rival, was made to quit the BJP last week to assuage Mr Modi and keep peace among the two leaders that the party's parent body, the RSS sees as the future - Mr Modi and BJP president Nitin Gadkari.
Mr Joshi had been re-inducted by BJP president Nitin Gadkari after a six-year hiatus over a sleaze CD. Mr Gadkari, like Mr Joshi, enjoys the confidence of the BJP's parent body, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh or RSS. Last month, Mr Modi refused to attend a meeting of senior BJP leaders in Mumbai till Mr Joshi resigned from the party's national executive. Within hours of that happening, Mr Modi altered his itinerary to fly into Mumbai where he was given a hero's welcome by party workers.
The Gujarat elections are scheduled for later this year, and Mr Modi said he is confident of another BJP triumph in the state. "We are Team BJP. We are Team Gujarat. We walk only on the path of development," he said at the BJP's state executive meet yesterday, adding, "The Congress will be wiped out by 2012 as people are now tired of it."