As the day of the Delhi Assembly polls draws close, contending parties – the BJP, the AAP and the Congress – have left no stone unturned in attacking one another, either be it over the anti-CAA protests or the performance of the Kejriwal government. Monday saw a series of such rallies where prominent leaders launched a no-holds-barred attack on rivals.
While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is expected to release its poll manifesto on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to address a public rally at Dwarka and Home Minister Amit Shah at Delhi Cantonment, Patel Nagar and Timarpur.
Congress leaders Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will also address rallies in national capital on Tuesday.
Much like his party colleagues, Prime Minister Narendra Modi trained his guns at the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Shaheen Bagh, Jamia Millia Islamia and Seelampur, while addressing his first public meeting for the polls.
Modi said such protests were not a coincidence, but an “experiment” and a political conspiracy to destroy the country’s harmony, as he accused the AAP and the Congress of fuelling the stir for vote bank politics.
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“Seelampur ho, Jamia ho ya phir Shaheen Bagh, beete kayi dinon se Citizenship Amendment Bill ko lekar pradarshan hua. Kya ye pradarshan sirf ek sanyog hai? Ji nahi, ye sanyog nahi, ye ek prayog hai. Iske peeche rajneeti ka ek aisa design hai jo rashtra ke sauhard ko khandit karne ke iraade rakhta hai.” (“Be it Seelampur, Jamia or Shaheen Bagh, the past few days have seen protests against the CAA. Are these protests merely a coincidence? No, this is an experiment. Behind this is a political design which intends to destroy the amity of the country),” Modi said at the rally.
The day also saw Union minister and BJP’s in-charge of Delhi polls Prakash Javadekar and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath taking turns calling Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal names.
Defending BJP MP Parvesh Verma’s “terrorist” comment at Kejriwal, Javadekar said the chief minister proved himself as one when he stayed a night at the Moga residence of Khalistani commander Gurinder Singh during the Punjab Assembly polls.
BJP’s firebrand leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath continued his blistering attack on Kejriwal at public meetings, saying the AAP leader has become a “toy in the hands of antisocial and anti-India elements.”
“Now when elections are taking place in Delhi, who is speaking in favour of Arvind Kejriwal? It is the ministers of Pakistan. They are aware that Kejriwal is feeding biryani to protesters at Shaheen Bagh,” he said, referring to Pakistan minister Fawad Chaudhry’s tweet asking Indians to defeat Modi.
“Will Pakistan decide who Indians should vote for? If voting for Kejriwal will make Pakistan happy, should it be done?” he asked at a rally in Mehrauli.
Notwithstanding the 96-hour ban imposed on him by the Election Commission, BJP MP Parvesh Verma, in an attack on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in Parliament on Monday said the CAA won’t be rolled back as India was not ruled by “Rajiv Feroze Khan”.
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Kejriwal took out roadshows in various parts of the city, while his party tried to corner the BJP for allegedly calling him a “terrorist” by releasing a video in which the kin of “martyred” Delhi police officers, who were given compensation by the AAP government, expressed their disapproval of the remarks by BJP leaders against the chief minister.
The AAP on Monday approached the Election Commission against Adityanath, Verma and other BJP leaders for their alleged objectionable remarks against Kejriwal, and demanded an FIR against them.
“We met the CEC and raised the issue of statements of several BJP leaders. BJP MP Parvesh Verma called the CM a terrorist. We also demanded action against UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for his Pakistan remark against the Delhi CM,” AAP leader Sanjay Singh said.
He alleged the BJP does not have any issue to raise in the Delhi assembly election and was trying to defer the polls.
For the Congress, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh joined the campaign on Monday and targeted both the AAP and the BJP, saying Delhi has suffered in the turf war of the two parties and only Congress can bring development in the city.
Singh, participating in a roadshow for Congress candidate from Kalkaji constituency, alleged that Kejriwal had done “nothing exceptional” by providing cheap power and healthcare in Delhi as all Congress chief ministers have been doing it in their respective states and alleged the AAP leader was a “shifty character” who had “mastered the art of deceit and lies to mislead people.”
Addressing an election rally in Hari Nagar, he also hit out at the BJP, accusing it of converting “the entire country into Shaheen Bagh,” using it to polarise elections in Delhi and in the process, destroying India’s foundations.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tried to woo voters in Wazirpur. He alleged that the Kejriwal government did not work in areas of Delhi where people from Bihar lived.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati also addressed a rally in support of her party candidates in Delhi elections at Talkatora stadium.
She said the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) had made life more difficult for Muslims, as she appealed to the voters of Delhi not to get lured by the “enticing manifestos” of Congress, BJP and AAP.
Mayawati said if her party wins the upcoming Delhi Assembly polls, it would bring development on the lines of the BSP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, driven by the principle of “sarvajan hitaye, sarvajan sukhaye.”
Top BJP leaders, including party president JP Nadda and Union ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goel, Hardeep Puri and Smriti Irani, also slammed the Kejriwal government, accusing it of failing to fulfil its promises and supporting “anti-national” elements.
Shah claimed that former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had promised citizenship to minorities from Pakistan but the Congress is now protesting the amended citizenship law because it is “afraid of its vote bank in Shaheen Bagh.”
Addressing an election rally in support of the BJP candidate from Rajinder Nagar, R P Singh, he said the February 8 polls were no longer for electing assembly members and a chief minister, but were a contest between two ideologies.
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“On one hand, there are people who stand with Shaheen Bagh and on the other hand, there are people who enter Pakistan and avenge the deaths of our soldiers,” he said.
In their rallies, Shah and other BJP leaders have been referring to the sit-in by anti-CAA protesters at Shaheen Bagh here, which began on December 15, asking people to vote for the saffron party to show their disapproval for the stir.
“Kejriwal only cheated Delhi people in past five years,” Shah said in his election meetings.
Irani, while addressing meetings in Trinagar, Madipur and Patel Nagar, said “Why are Kejriwal, Congress and “tukde tukde” gang pained if the BJP came out with the CAA for giving citizenship to victims.”
Campaigning for the polls will conclude on February 6 evening.
The elections for the Delhi Assembly’s 70 seats will be held on February 8. Results will be declared on February 11.
(With inputs from agencies)