Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-run Centre during a public meet in Jantar Mantar and doubled down on posters criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi pasted across the Capital, for which six people have been arrested.
Kejriwal equated the police crackdown on people who put up “Modi Hatao, Desh Bachao” posters in parts of the Capital to censorship during British rule.
“A hundred years ago, even the British did not arrest anyone for putting up posters against them. Who knew a PM would come and get 138 FIRs registered in 24 hours for putting up posters against him. Six poor people have been arrested. Why is Modi so afraid?,” Kejriwal said, appealing to the PM to get the arrested persons released.
To be sure, all six got bail on Wednesday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit back at Kejriwal with party spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor saying that the statements are unbecoming of the constitutional post Kejriwal holds.
During his 26-minute speech, Kejriwal also targeted the Prime Minister over allegations of corruption, demonetisation, the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), among other issues, saying the country was “going down the path of dictatorship”.
Kejriwal was joined on stage by Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann, Delhi minister Gopal Rai, and other senior AAP leaders.
In a reference to the arrest of deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia by investigative agencies last month, Kejriwal said politicians facing corruption charges get a “clean chit” when they join the BJP.
“PM Narendra Modi’s message is clear. He is not against corruption, but wants all corruption to be done by people who are in the BJP. The BJP gives freedom for corruption,” said Kejriwal.
He sought to underline that the AAP does not tolerate corruption, flagging that the party sacked then food minister Asim Ahmad Khan in October 2015 after corruption charges emerged against him.
He also cited sacking of Punjab health minister Vijay Singla over corruption charges by state chief minister Bhagwant Mann.
Kejriwal also said India’s prime minister should be a person who is “educated”.
“When I take meetings as CM, I understand how important it is for the PM to be educated. The bureaucrats twist things and take a signature anywhere they want if the PM is not educated,” Kejriwal said, referring to an interview in which PM Modi ostensibly spoke about his educational background.
Mann, who was present at the protest meeting, said the BJP is dedicated to dividing the country, while the AAP works for development. “We do not have any personal enmity with Narendra Modi, but our pain is that the country is being sold. The next generation will question us what we were doing (if we do not act now). We can say that we raised our voice when the country was being sold,” Mann said.
AAP Delhi convener Gopal Rai said from March 30 the AAP will intensify its ‘Modi Hatao, Desh Bachao’ campaign.
Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva hit out at Kejriwal, saying everyone has the right to protest, but adding that it is “legally necessary” to indicate the organisation or individual’s names while releasing political posters.
“People of Delhi are shocked to see Arvind Kejriwal, whose two ministers are in jail over graft, preaching the country on corruption. Kejriwal is well known as an irresponsible chief minister, but now Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann has left him behind,” he said.
“Punjab is slowly burning, and terrorism, separatism are raising their ugly heads while the state CM is busy in political tourism. The entire country is shocked at such behaviour,” Sachdeva added