The Government’s standoff with students at JNU and in other parts of the country shows that it picks fights deliberately, and also explains the “daily battles” between the Delhi government and the Centre, said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
On his first state-wide tour of Punjab after two years to kick off the Aam Aadmi Party’s push for the 2017 assembly elections, Kejriwal told The Sunday Express that AAP’s main opponents were not the Akali Dal or the Congress, but “drugs, unemployment and corruption”.
“From the incidents of the last few days, it’s clear that in the last one year, (the AAP government) were not the ones fighting, it was [the Centre]. Today, the BJP government at the centre is at war with students, it is at war with the Dalits.they are picking up fights where there are no fights. They are picking up issues where there are no issues, they are making up issues. That is what they were doing with the Delhi government. That is their character. They want to fight deliberately,” he said.
Kejriwal said he wanted to know why the government had not yet arrested those who had allegedly raised slogans supporting the break-up of India and claimed that CCTV evidence was available in which faces of those shouting the slogans were visible.
“Why are they not arresting these people? We are also conducting an inquiry by a District Magistrate. We have videotapes. These boys [who have suurended] organised the function. They had called some people from outside, and those people raised the slogans. We have their videos, we have their photographs. The police also have them. Why is the (Narendra) Modi government not arresting them?” said Kejriwal.
This gives to the suspicion, Kejriwal said, “that they do not want to”.
“They want to keep this whole issue boiling. Either say that the whole of Delhi Police, the CRPF, RAW, IB, they have all become useless. If they have not been able to catch four boys who raised slogans, how will they get hold of the Pathankot terrorists? That means the government machinery is completely ineffective, which I don’t believe. They are not. Our intelligence agencies are very good. So the only second conclusion is that the Modi government is in collusion with them,” he alleged.
Emphasising that “no sensible person” would support slogans that were raised in JNU for the break-up of India, Kejriwal said, however, that under the pretext of nationalism, the BJP had “unleashed goons” on the public.
“This goondagardi cannot be tolerated,” he said, referring to attacks by lawyers on students, activists and the media in Delhi ahead of a hearing for police custody of JNU students leader Kanhaiya Kumar this month.
“We have courts, a system, a judiciary that will take care of this. BJP have unleashed their goondas. But goondas cannot be given the power of the judiciary,” he said.
“…they should not arrest innocent persons. Here I specifically want to speak about Kanhaiya… They have not been able to find any evidence against him… But B S Bassi (the Delhi Police chief) says these people have to prove their innocence first. It’s the job of the police to find the evidence to show guilt. Bassi has turned the criminal justice system on its head,” said Kejriwal, who said he had not seen or read about HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s speech in Parliament in which she defended the government.
Nationalism, said Kejriwal, “ is not a bad thing”. “But nationalism is not jingoism. Nationalism is getting rid of corruption, nationalism is giving people education; it is building schools and colleges; getting rid of drugs; it is building infrastructure. It is not nationalism when you kill somebody, stand over his body and say Bharat Mata ki Jai,” he said.
Asked if voters in Punjab would be put off AAP by the constant sparring in Delhi between the government and the state, Kejriwal said that “the people will have to see who is the villain”. “The Centre is the villain. This is a political struggle that the country is seeing,” he said.
Kejriwal said he could feel a wave in Punjab already for clean, honest government, and predicted that his party would repeat the Delhi story here.
“My studied assessment is that we will win 100 out of the 117 seats (in the Punjab Assembly),” he said, dismissing the playing down of the AAP factor by the Congress and the Akali Dal.
“Captain Amarinder and Badal, they are worried less about losing to each other in the election and more about AAP. They have entered into a pact with each other, an alliance. They are both attacking AAP. The Punjab election is not a triangular contest. It’s a bipolar contest between those two on one side and AAP on the other. They are afraid that when AAP comes to power, we will start investigating all their misdeeds one after the other,” he said.
Asked if he would be the chief ministerial candidate of AAP, Kejriwal said the question was more of interest to the media than to the people of Punjab.
“I think that question is irrelevant because we don’t even think about all that. We are speaking about issues. We are discussing with people what should be done. Who will do it, we will see later,” he said.
The problems in the state, especially its agrarian crisis, were far more serious than anyone could imagine, he said, alleging that “the Badals have sucked Punjab dry”.