The announcement came at the end of a day that Kejriwal began with a dip in the Ganga, and which saw him being targeted with eggs and black ink by protesters ahead of the evening’s election meeting.
The Aam Aadmi Party leader claimed credit for the Election Commission putting on hold the increase in the price of natural gas scheduled for April 1, but warned people that the “good news” would not last if they chose the “wrong government” in the elections.
Both the BJP and Congress were controlled by big corporate interests, Kejriwal said. “People are angry with the UPA. But who should replace them? The NDA? They too are controlled by the likes of Ambani. Modi rides in their helicopters, so does Rahul. Don’t make the mistake of choosing either. They are the same,” he said.
Kejriwal said he would fight Modi in Varanasi, but the people of the constituency would have to help him raise funds for the battle.
“I am ready to take up the challenge of contesting against Modi. Like Madan Mohan Malviya, who set up an entire university with donations, I too will come to you because I don’t have the money (to fight the election),” he told a cheering crowd at the Benia Bagh Maidan.
“I invite Modi to a debate right here in Benia Bagh,” Kejriwal said. “I want to know what he has to say. I want to know about Gujarat’s development. He will have to come. And if does not, be sure that there is something fishy somewhere.”
On Modi’s claim that he would bring back black money stashed abroad, Kejriwal said: “I wrote to Modi asking what he had to say about the money in the Swiss bank accounts of Anil and Mukesh Ambani. He has not replied. I have brought their account numbers with me.”
He then read out some numbers from a slip of paper, after warning camera crews to switch off. “Please stop recording. If you show these numbers on air, the Ambanis will send you legal notices,” he said.
For a full year, the media had been perpetuating Modi’s lies on Gujarat, Kejriwal said. “Media ne poore ek saal se jhooth faila rakha hai ki Gujarat mein baraa development hua hai.” The truth, he said, was that “kisanon ki zameen chheen kar unko Adani aur Ambani ko Re 1 per square metre par de diya (the government snatched land from farmers and gave it to Ambani and Adani at Re 1/sq m)”.
With Kumar Vishwas, the AAP candidate from Amethi, in tow, Kejriwal told the gathering that the 2014 elections were focused on two seats: Amethi and Varanasi. “The results of these two seats will determine whether honest people will stay in politics or not,” he said.
Kejriwal predicted that if Modi and Rahul were defeated, the new government would fall within a year, and the election thereafter would produce an honest and stable government. “Media spreads the wrong impression that nobody wants elections in quick succession. But people are not afraid. In fact, many good things happen only when elections are announced.”
He ridiculed the BJP for calling him a “quitter” in Delhi: “Thank God the BJP was not in existence when Lal Bahadur Shastri resigned after a rail accident, otherwise they would have called him a quitter too. Even Lord Ram would have been branded a quitter because he agreed to be in exile following the orders of the elders.”
Groups of Modi supporters followed Kejriwal’s cavalcade through the city from the time he began his day by taking a dip in the Ganga at Mahishasur Ghat near Ram Nagar.
After paying obeisance to Kal Bhairav, Kejriwal went to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. As he came out, a couple of eggs were thrown at him from a building nearby.
In the Maldahia area, an alleged member of the Hindu Yuva Vahini threw black ink at Kejriwal and his aides Sanjay Singh, Manish Siodia and Somnath Bharti. As the party reached Benia Bagh, some BJP supporters showed them black flags.
At the rally, Kejriwal said the attacks were carried out by hired goons brought from outside. “Varanasi ke logon ki toh yeh sanskriti nahin hai (This is not the culture of Varanasi),” he said.