Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of “backstabbing” the people of Delhi, as he joined the BJP’s campaign in the politically charged battle for the Capital that experts say is too close to call.
Despite a slew of electoral wins, the BJP is struggling to put up a united face in Delhi and the party’s decision to fly in former police officer Kiran Bedi as its chief ministerial candidate has left many senior leaders and workers disgruntled, analysts said.
“Last year, those whom you people voted for, backstabbed you and shattered your dreams,” Modi said at a rally in east Delhi ahead of the February 7 election. “Delhi needs a person who can lead from the front. Kiran Bedi is the right person for the job and for Delhi.”
As the crowd chanted “Modi, Modi”, the Prime Minister vowed to give the Capital a clean and responsible government apart from pucca houses to slum dwellers, bank accounts for the poor, jobs to the youth and uninterrupted water supply in the city.
Modi’s attack on the AAP came on a day the Arvind Kejriwal-led party released a 70-point manifesto, promising affordable electricity, free WiFi and a million CCTV cameras for Delhi.
Watch video: PM Modi slams 'backstabber' AAP in Delhi rally
Most analysts see the election as a two-way contest between the BJP and AAP, with price rise and women’s safety emerging as key electoral issues, though the Congress is also looking to revive its fortunes in the 70-member assembly following a string of defeats last year.
The Prime Minister also called out the names of party candidates contesting from assembly seats in east and northeast Delhi, including Kiran Bedi from Krishna Nagar, and described Satish Upadhyay –under whose leadership the party is fighting the polls – as an “old friend” in a bid to soothe frayed nerves in the ranks.
BJP president Amit Shah hit out at the AAP from the same podium, asking the people of Delhi not to elect a “government of dharnas”.
“If Modiji wants to develop the city, people should cooperate with him. People should not choose a government of dharnas, else the central government will not be able to do any development work,” he told the large crowd that had gathered – a contrast to the lukewarm response Modi’s Ramlila Maidan rally received last month.
The BJP is hoping to ride the Modi wave to victory when the votes are counted on February 10 with some opinion polls putting the AAP marginally ahead.
Delhi is the face of India and this election would decide how the country is seen at the global stage, the PM said, asking voters to give his party a clear majority.
“Despite emerging as the single-largest party (in the last election) we didn’t form the government. BJP could have played ‘kursi ka khel’ but we knew we didn’t have the mandate,” he said.
The Capital has been under President’s Rule for over a year since the Aam Aadmi Party quit after just 49 days in office, most of them dominated by public sit-ins, conflicts with electricity and water agencies as well as a power struggle with the central government.
Addressing the crowd before the Prime Minister, Bedi said if she became the chief minister, she would ensure cameras were installed inside public buses and at road junctions within three days.
“I’m grateful to Modiji and BJP workers who had faith in me. I promise you and I’m confident that I will not fail you,” she said.