The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday said the language in the advertisement about Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal is nothing but a figure of speech after the AAP demanded a public apology for allegedly attacking a particular community.
The BJP advertisement targets Kejriwal for threatening to disrupt the Republic Day parade last year and says he complained that he was not been invited for the event this year."Desh ke karodon log gantantra divas ko rashtriya parv mante hain, us par garv karte hain. Aur apka updravi gotra isme vyavdhan dalne ko taiyar tha ((The country's crores of people consider Republic Day as a national festival and feel proud about it. And your trouble maker community was ready to disrupt it)," says the ad.
BJP advertisement uses the term 'upadravi (nuisance causing) gotra'.
Reacting to Kejriwal's claims of racial attack, BJP leader and Union power minister Piyush Goyal said the advertisement was merely a figure of speech and accsued the AAP of giving a casteist spin to it.
"The remark was made metaphorically, to depict AAP's DNA, its political philosophy, which is of anarchy," Goyal said.
"We don't ever divide society on caste lines. They (AAP) are twisting it, they do not understand what a political metaphor is. We used the word 'upadravi' metaphorically," Goyal added.
The BJP also asked the AAP to 'introspect' and become a 'responsible' party and stop taking offence to everything other than their own actions.
BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli told reporters, "AAP takes offence to everything except their own acts. You look at whether it was Republic Day parade which they wanted to disrupt, whether it was Mr Bharti, whether it was Ashutosh seeking to come into our office, whether media, judiciary, executive or legislature, they have problems with everything except their own actions."
"If they contemplate or introspect about their own actions, perhaps, they may become a more responsible party," he added.
Another BJP spokesperson, GVL Narsimha Rao, added, "AAP is stooping low in electoral politics. Having claimed it is an idealistic party, you have seen how Arvind Kejriwal himself tried to invoke his caste. How AAP is now trying to latch on every attempt to communalise and to drag caste into their own electoral calculations."
Earlier in the day, Kejriwal had said his party will meet Election Commission officials and complain against the BJP for allegedly attacking his entire community in the advertisement.
"The BJP in the past few days has been coming out with few advertisements personally attacking me. They attacked me and my children, I kept quiet because Anna used to say that if someone personally attacks you, you should have the strength to bear it. But today they have crossed their limit," Kejriwal told reporters.
"They have called an entire community 'updravi'. The BJP's fight is with me, whatever they have to say they should say it against me, they should not attack the Aggarwal community," he said.
"This is unacceptable and they should apologise to the entire community. We will complain to EC that BJP has stooped down to racial
attacks. Delhi's people do not like this abusive politics," Kejriwal said.
The AAP chief also called a meeting of top party leaders at his residence to deliberate on the issue.
Senior AAP leader Ashutosh too came down heavily on the BJP and said the people of Delhi will teach the saffron party a lesson in the upcoming assembly elections.
"The BJP must withdraw the ad within 2 hours and apologise publicly or we will be forced to take action," Ashutosh said.
AAP leaders Kumar Vishwas and Yogendra Yadav also slammed BJP for the controversial advertisement.
"I am sure public will give an appropriate answer to this personalised attack by BJP on February 7. Now that they are targeting him by
attacking his gotra, it only shows that they have the same mentality as Sakshi Maharaj and the so called Sadhvi," Vishwas told reporters.
Yadav pointed out that the EC should have 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 whether they had seen the advertisement," he said.
"I feel if the BJP will take out one such low-grade advertisement every day and one interview of Kiran Bedi live on TV, half of our campaigning job will be done. We will complete the remaining half by telling people about our plan of action for reducing electricity, water tariffs and dealing with other issues. So, I am in a way thankful to them."
"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.
Congress also jumped into the arena and hit out at the 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.
"1st Singhal, Sakshi, Sadhvi, baliyan, singh (Bihar) coupled with Modi's eloquent silence. Now gotras, caste, community. Is this Modi Devt model? (sic)," he wrote on Twitter.?
Delhi goes to polls on February 7 and the votes will be counted on February 10.
(With inputs from PTI)