Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Thursday said that had his presence at the Shaheen Bagh protest against the CAA and NRC, “which have been introduced to divide the country”, helped address the concerns of people, he would have ended the stand-off within “five minutes”.
Addressing a town hall event moderated by Times Now, Kejriwal said the right to protest peacefully is guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution, adding that it should not cause “inconvenience” to others. He was responding to a question on traffic woes due to the blockade.
While the AAP chief has opposed CAA — and his party voted against it in Parliament — he has stayed away from protests. The party has officially maintained that the CM’s presence would only help the BJP in polarising the electorate ahead of polls.
Responding to a question on him giving Shaheen Bagh protest a miss, Kejriwal said, “My going there will not put a lid on NRC and CAA. If my presence would have helped, I would have ended it (CAA, NRC) in five minutes. If the Centre revokes CAA and NRC, then people protesting across the country, not just in Shaheen Bagh, will return to their homes.”
“This country will progress when schools and hospitals will be built, when scientific temper will be cultivated. This country will not make progress through NRC and CAA, which have been brought to divide the country. But people will put cold water over their designs,” added the CM.
He will address seven more such town hall meets, where he will talk about the AAP’s guarantee card, till January 30. The venue of Thursday’s event was South Delhi’s Siri Fort auditorium, where the audience mostly comprised supporters of Malviya Nagar MLA Somnath Bharti.
Asked about his stand on traffic snarls caused by the blockade, and if he would like to request protesters to withdraw, Kejriwal said: “People have the right to protest peacefully under Article 19… but inconvenience should not be caused to others. I don’t have the details, but if there is any inconvenience, it isn’t right.”
On the question of illegal Hindu and Sikh immigrants who came to India fearing religious persecution in Pakistan and are living in camps in Delhi, the CM said, “Chhai (six) camps ke liye satyanash kar diya poore desh ka? The problems of Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, Jains and Muslims living in Delhi are my problem. Aapko Pakistan ki badi problem padi hai? Have you resolved the unemployment crisis being faced by Indian Hindus, Sikhs and Christians? You could not do so, that is why you are distracting people.”
On a question posed by author Chetan Bhagat on the party’s expansion plans, Kejriwal said, “I’m a very small person. The people of Delhi have showered a lot of love on me. Delhi bohot hai mere liye.”
The CM also touched on the promises made in the guarantee card, which he said are aimed at turning Delhi into a world class city. Kejriwal said since land does not come under the Delhi government, instead of building new schools, his administration added 22,000 new classrooms on the available land.
Kejriwal added that unoccupied flats built under JNNURM are being repaired and the government will be able to move slum dwellers there by the end of 2020.
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