IN HIS first public remarks after Delhi voted AAP back to power, Union Home Minister and former BJP president Amit Shah has acknowledged that some provocative remarks during the poll campaign by his party leaders, such as “goli maaro” and “India vs Pakistan”, should not have been made — and may have hurt the party.
Responding to a question at the Times Now summit, Shah also admitted that his assessment of the poll outcome went wrong.
He, however, defended his own statement that a vote for the BJP would send a “current to Shaheen Bagh”.
“I had said nothing wrong. Current doesn’t mean giving someone a shock. This is a way of making people understand that victory is connected to this thought, so think about your vote,” he said.
On Kashmir, he said the government was giving permission to anyone who wanted to visit the Valley.
On the remarks made by BJP leaders during the Delhi polls, Shah said: “Aisa bayan nahin diya kisi ne ki bahu-betiyon ka balatkar karenge, magar baaki sab jo aapne kaha, woh bhi bayan nahin dene chahiye. Party ne turant hi apne-aap ko alag kiya hai… har sthar ke karyakarta chunav ke maidan mein hote hai. Koi karyakarta kuch bol jaata hai. Par janata ko maloom hai ki party kaun hai. Party ke official pravakta hote hai, party ka Parliamentary board hota hai, party ke prasthapit neta hote hai. Agar unke bayan ko nazarandaaz karke, koi bhi vyakti bolega… Koi chhote vyakti bole hai yeh mera nahin kehna hai. Parantu ye BJP ka nazariya nahin ho sakta.” (“Nobody gave a statement that mothers and sisters would be raped. The other statements that you raised, they should not have been made. The party immediately distanced itself from them…party workers of every level are part of the election campaign. Some worker says something, but the public knows what the party is. The party’s official spokesperson, the party’s Parliamentary board, the party’s designated leaders, if you ignore their statements, and look at what anyone says… I am not saying that small people said this. But this cannot be the view of the BJP.”)
Asked if he thought the BJP had to bear the consequences for these remarks, Shah said: “It is possible we may have had to bear the cost. When you vote, there is no provision to write down your reasons why. So we will not be able to find out, but it is possible we had to bear the consequences.”
Asked if he had erred in his assessment of 45 seats for the BJP, Shah admitted he got it wrong. “It is a reality that my assessment was wrong. Otherwise, our party would have won. I thought that our party would win,” he said.
A number of BJP leaders had made a series of provocative remarks in the final run-up to the Delhi polls.
On January 28, in an interview to ANI, West Delhi MP Parvesh Sahib Singh said that if the anti-CAA and NRC protests at Shaheen Bagh continue, Delhi will face a “Kashmir-like situation” wherein protesters might “enter homes and rape sisters and daughters”.
On January 27, addressing an election rally, MoS (Finance) Anurag Thakur repeatedly chanted “Desh ke gaddaron ko” and had people responding with “goli maaro saalon ko”. It roughly translates to “What should be done with traitors of the country? Shoot them”.
On January 22, Kapil Mishra had tweeted: “India vs Pakistan 8th February Delhi. 8 February ko dilli ki sadkon par Hindustan aur Pakistan ka muqabla hoga”. The following day he tweeted: “AAP and Congress have created mini-Pakistans like Shaheen Bagh. In response, India will stand up against this on February 8. When anti-nationals created Pakistan in India, the India of nationalists will stand up against it.”
On the detention of former J&K CMs Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, Shah said it was not that there isn’t any evidence. “This decision has to be taken by the local administration. There is no intervention of the Government of India in that decision. Lots of tweets have been enclosed. That if you remove 370, the country will burn, hands will burn, you yourself will burn. There is evidence, there are lots of tweets. The decision has to be made by courts. There has been a petition from the side of Omar Abdullah… Supreme Court will decide,” he said.
Responding to a question on why senior political leaders were being barred from entering Kashmir, Shah said the government would allow anyone to go. “No one went after that. We are giving permission to everyone,” he said.
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