In his first rally in Uttar Pradesh, Arvind Kejriwal launched a no-holds-barred attack on BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi on Sunday. Rubbishing talk of a Modi wave, Kejriwal said he expected the Aam Aadmi Party to get more than 100 seats in the coming Lok Sabha polls, and said that no government would be formed without AAP.
While Kejriwal himself said nothing on the matter, there were clear indications that he would fight the Lok Sabha elections against Modi. Three AAP stalwarts called on him from the stage to contest against Modi from Varanasi, in what sources said was an attempt to force the Gujarat Chief Minister’s hand.
Sources said that Kejriwal would only make his announcement once Modi clarifies his stand, but confirmed that the BJP leader was the party’s principal opponent. “Modi will now either have to contest from Varanasi, or find a good reason to stand from somewhere else. Or he will be accused of being afraid,” sources said.
In another indication of its gameplan for Uttar Pradesh, AAP Sunday inducted influential Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Rushaid, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, and several members of the AMU Old Boys’ Association at the rally. Rushaid, who spoke of Kejriwal in glowing terms, was the only man the AAP leader introduced and hugged on the stage.
Attacking Mayawati for allying with the BJP in the past, Kejriwal asked Muslims to choose AAP. “If you vote for the BSP, you are voting for the BJP. Don’t make that mistake. And Mulayam Singh will join whoever has the most seats, because he needs the government’s protection in the CBI cases against him,” he said.
The AAP rally also mentioned the Samajwadi Party government’s record with regard to communal tension, with Kejriwal talking of more than a hundred riots in Uttar Pradesh in two years. “I believe that all riots are engineered. I promise you that if one impartial invesigating agency looks into them, and one political lynchpin is caught, riots will stop.”
Amid loud cheers from the nearly 20,000 people gathered at Kanpur’s waterlogged Ramlila Maidan, Kejriwal said that he will travel through Gujarat for four days to “see Modi’s claims of development for himself”. “Hum bhi to dekhen Gujarat ko (I should also see the development in Gujarat)! If there is that much development, then we will learn and apply those methods in Delhi and in Uttar Pradesh. But if it’s not true, then the blindfold will have to be taken off.”
Having arrived at Kanpur after a roadshow across continued…