Under attack from the top BJP leadership, which has questioned his patriotism, called him a terrorist and linked him to Pakistan, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday that “the time has come” for people to “choose what patriotism is”, and that “21st Century India cannot be a product of hatred among people”.
In an interview with The Indian Express, the AAP chief said: “Is educating children patriotism (deshbhakti) or is it stressing on the Hindu-Muslim debate? Is providing affordable healthcare patriotism or is it Hindu-Muslim? Is improving electricity, water and roads patriotism or is it instigating riots and abusing?”
Kejriwal also said that Home Minister Amit Shah’s campaign, which revolved around “saying Shaheen Bagh, Shaheen Bagh, Shaheen Bagh”, had failed, which is why an “obvious conspiracy” had been hatched to link the Shaheen Bagh shooter to the Aam Aadmi Party.
Responding to the Delhi Police claim that Kapil Baisala, who fired two shots in the air at Shaheen Bagh last week, had joined the AAP last year, Kejriwal said: “Send him to jail. If the jail term is two years, sentence him for four years if he is connected with the AAP by chance. Forty-eight hours before voting, his photos coming out are an obvious conspiracy. Nothing worked for Amit Shah ji. He first got all parties against me — LJP, JD(U), RJD, but that didn’t work. Then he brought in 200 MPs but that failed, he got 70 ministers but that failed, he got 11 chief ministers, which also failed. Then he abused me thoroughly, but that didn’t work either. Then he started saying Shaheen Bagh, Shaheen Bagh, Shaheen Bagh, which failed again. Finally, Delhi Police is the last resort. They are going around with some photos, but his (Kapil’s) father has said that he isn’t a part of AAP.”
Kejriwal also responded to Union Minister Prakash Javadekar’s remark that he (Kejriwal) had admitted to being an anarchist, and that was no different from being a terrorist. “Anarchy means the complete state of disrepair of our schools, hospitals, bijli-paani over the last 70 years… The systems are in a bad shape, and when I try to shake that up, the vested interests, the status quoists, they say Kejriwal is an anarchist,” he said.
Asked whether he felt the Election Commission had done enough to curb leaders from making divisive statements, he said the poll body had “taken a few measures”, but “could have done much more.”
He also said that the method of protest at Shaheen Bagh, of blocking the road, “will not be acceptable in any democracy, any society. Gandhi ji would not have accepted this either”.
“We are a party born from a protest. The Anna andolan was a kind of protest which did not cause inconvenience to anyone. Maine 15 din ka anashan rakha tha (I was on a fast for 15 days). But no one has the right to cause inconvenience,” he said.
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