Neither the skull cap nor strong words against communalism could save Arvind Kejriwal and fellow AAP leaders the wrath of protesters at a function of the AMU Old Boys’ Association on Tuesday. They were protesting against the distribution of tickets by the AAP and also the fact that in none of the seven Lok Sabha seats of Delhi had the party put up a Muslim candidate.
During an interaction with the Muslim intelligentsia at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, Kejriwal, who had drawn flak for his earlier statement about communalism being a bigger problem than corruption, steered clear of any such comparisons. Instead, he said they were two sides of the same coin and that riots were engineered to keep people’s attention away from “looting by political parties”.
Sniping at the BJP, Kejriwal said, “It is not acceptable to us that people spread communalism in the name of giving a stable government. It is important to understand that communalism and corruption are two sides of the same coin. Riots are engineered to keep people’s attention away from looting by political parties. Look at Uttar Pradesh, where there have been 102 riots since the Akhilesh government assumed office, and also the flurry of scams there, from NREGA to mid-day meal.”
The mostly Muslim audience at the Aiwan-e-Ghalib cheered and volunteered to go to Varanasi when Kejriwal asked who all were ready to fight the battle against Narendra Modi.
He acknowledged the protests that broke out minutes before his entry, but instead of dealing with the issue that triggered it — AAP’s decision to field AMU alumnus Irshad Ahmed from Madhubani instead of a local candidate — Kejriwal spoke about his trip to Gujarat and how protesters there admitted to him that despite being “victims” of Modi’s policies, they were sent by the BJP to protest against him.
He trashed the Gujarat model of development, talking about how there were no roads in Gujarat villages and farmers had got a raw deal under the Modi government.