(From left): Congress candidate from Sadar Bazar, Ajay Maken, at his nomination filing procession for Assembly elections, in New Delhi, Jan. 21. (Shahbaz Khan | PTI); BJP Chief Minister candidate Kiran Bedi during her election campaign at Krishna Nagar area in New Delhi, Jan. 20. (Atul Yadav | PTI); AAP candidate Arvind Kejriwal after filing his nomination papers for upcoming Assembly elections at Jamnagar House in New Delhi, Jan. 21. (Shirish Shete | PTI)
With campaigning for Delhi Assembly elections in full swing, all three major parties have their guns loaded and pointed at each other, taking every opportunity to smear the opponent while intensely denying any wrongdoing on their own end. Election rallies are increasingly becoming more defamatory. A Press Trust of India report.
If My Luck is Benefitting People, then Vote for BJP: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought a majority for BJP in Delhi by presenting himself as a “lucky” person as he ridiculed his rivals for giving all credit for “successes” during his tenure to his good fortune only.
Addressing a rally in New Delhi, he talked about the performance of his eight-month-old government and said the prices of commodities like petrol and diesel have come down, benefitting the people and helping them save some money.
The “rivals,” particularly the Congress, say the prices have come down just because he is “lucky”, he said, adding, “Do you want a lucky person or someone who is less lucky?”
Taking on both AAP and Congress, Modi said they “forge friendship behind the curtains” to form a government, apparently referring to their alliance last year.
“However, as soon as polls were declared, they start competing each other in spreading lies which could lead to sensation and give them some space in the media,” he added.
Targeting AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, he asked people whether they want development or dharnas.
He emphasized that Delhi needs a government, which is “sensible” and “sensitive” to address the problems of the national capital.
“Running a government is a serious task… Governments cannot be run by getting space in the media but getting a space in the hearts of people,” the Prime Minister said at the rally in Dwarka area of South West Delhi.
Talking about the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi, Modi said she will take care of all problems, including traffic issues, that the national capital is facing as she is one who has devoted most of her life to Delhi.
“Delhi needs a government with full majority. The government we can trust. If you vote in a BJP government, then those who will be here will be afraid of Modi and the central government. But if there is someone who does not have anyone above him, then that person will bring in only devastation,” Modi said.
He said that “incomplete” mandate has already led to wastage of one year of Delhi’s development, which has “set the state back by 25 years.”
Apparently targeting Kejriwal without naming him, he said Delhi would suffer if the electorates vote for someone who is more interested in dharnas and “looking for space in TV media” than talking about issues to address them.
Noting that his main focus was development, he said, “I want to tell the people of Delhi that the only medicine to all the problems is development. If there is development, there will be employment, change in lifestyle, children will get education, elders will get medicine. That is why we have decided to walk on the path of development.”
Kejriwal Criticizes Modi for Focusing on AAP
Hitting back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal criticized him for targeting AAP in his election rally and not touching upon critical issues like laying out a roadmap for development of the city at a rally in New Delhi.
Kejriwal said given the “dwindling” support for BJP on the ground, Modi was left with no choice but to attack AAP.
The former Chief Minister said he was disappointed, as Modi did not talk “at all” about Delhi’s development and welfare of its people.
Addressing a rally at Viswas Nagar area in East Delhi, Modi made a sharp attack on AAP and called it “backstabber.”
He asked Delhiites not to repeat the “mistake” of voting for the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.
Taking a dig at Modi for his promise of ensuring security for women in the national capital, Kejriwal said “Delhi Police records show how crime against women has increased by 25 percent in the city over the last seven months.”
Promising to put up 15 lakh CCTV cameras across Delhi, Kejriwal said, “We will also ensure one police personnel in each bus.”
He also took potshots at BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi for her promise of regularizing unauthorized colonies and Jhuggi clusters.
“Kiran Bedi lives in a big bungalow, she does not know the difference between jhuggi jhopri and unauthorized colonies. She does not have any idea about how people live there,” he said.
Kejriwal once again apologized for his actions during his 49-day tenure as Chief Minister of Delhi last year and promised not to quit again.
“…Many people across Delhi feel that our actions have let them down. In May (last year), we apologized to the people of Delhi for the disappointment caused; and in case you missed it the first time, I do so again – so you hear us loud and clear,” he said.
AAP, which had 28 seats in the 70-member House, ran the government with Congress support.
Later, Kejriwal contested Lok Sabha polls against BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi from Varanasi but lost.
He insisted that he had not given up Chief Ministership of Delhi for that purpose, as is commonly believed.
Sonia Slams “Pracharak” Modi, “Dharnebaaj” Kejriwal
At a rally in New Delhi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, saying one was a “pracharak” and the other a “dharnebaaj,” as she asked voters to save Delhi from those who make only “hollow promises.”
“There is a need to be careful of those doing politics of pretension. The country is not run by mere slogans,” she said.
Addressing her first election rally for the Feb. 7 Delhi polls at Meethapur here near Badarpur, the Congress chief accused the Modi government of “weakening” the schemes initiated by the previous UPA dispensation, including on food security and land acquisition, and doing nothing to check corruption despite the “golden promises” made during the Lok Sabha polls.
She also raked up the issue of communal violence that took place in some parts of Delhi before the Assembly election dates were announced and alleged that it was being done to “capture power” in the state.
“There are some forces which cause incidents like what happened in Trilokpuri and Dilshad Garden. Such forces will have to be defeated which spread the politics of hatred,” she said as she appealed to people to strengthen secular forces.
Gandhi said that after the Assembly polls of 2013 in Delhi threw up a hung mandate, Congress had supported AAP in forming the government here, thinking they will deliver on their promise of making Delhi a better place. “But they could not run the government … and fled,” she said.
“I ask them (AAP) whether it was not their job to fight corruption and provide cheap water and electricity. And then the other party (BJP) kept on delaying elections in Delhi and continued with its rule here in the name of President’s rule,” she said.
BJP Ad Targeting Kejriwal Sparks War of Words
A controversial BJP advertisement purportedly targeting AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal’s gotra triggered a war of words with both the parties rushing to the Election Commission to file complaints against each other.
While Kejriwal slammed the BJP for having “crossed their limit” by “attacking” his gotra (clan) in the advertisement that appeared in several newspapers and thereby denigrating the entire Agarwal community, the BJP accused him of giving casteist overtone to the issue.
While the AAP in its complaint slammed the saffron party for having “tagged an entire sect of the Indian society and called them updravi (anarchist).”
The BJP advertisement targets Kejriwal for allegedly threatening to disrupt the Republic Day parade last year while complaining this year that he was not been invited for the event.
“The country’s crores of people consider Republic Day as a national festival and feel proud about it,” the ad said adding that Kejriwal, belonging to an ‘anarchist gotra’ was ready to even disrupt it.
Senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav wondered whether the EC had “seen” the advertisement before it went to print.
“As per the rules, EC has to approve any advertisement before it goes to print. We will ask the EC if they had seen the advertisement,” he said.
“There was lot of hue and cry when Arvind Kejriwal had called himself a baniya. I want to see what will be the reaction to this advertisement now,” added Yadav.
Kejriwal has often described himself as a baniya to reach out to traders’ community, which has traditionally supported BJP.
Another ad released by BJP last week that had Anna Hazare’s portrait garlanded had prompted AAP to ask whether the saffron party had “killed” the veteran anti-corruption crusader.
Meanwhile, BJP defended itself saying that the Aam Aadmi Party takes offense to everything other than their own actions.
“AAP takes offence to everything except their own acts … they have problems with everything except their own actions,” BJP leader Nalin Kohli told reporters, adding “if they (AAP) contemplate or introspect about their own actions, perhaps, they may become a more responsible party.”
Congress also hit out at BJP saying the party is trying to divide the society on the basis of caste and community.
“You now have an advertisement by BJP directly dividing the society on basis of caste and community. This is the ‘chaal, chehra, charitra’ of BJP, its true identity. PM Modi practices eloquent silence,” party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.