Delhi: Kejriwal lashes out at BJP over civic polls, graft, Kashmir Files

Updated on Mar 25, 2022 01:40 AM IST

In a nearly 20-minute speech, Kejriwal, who is also the national convener of the AAP, said the BJP does not want elections in the municipalities since it was sure of its defeat

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses the budget session of the Delhi Assembly, on Thursday. (HT)
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses the budget session of the Delhi Assembly, on Thursday. (HT)
ByAlok KN Mishra

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal launched a scathing attack on the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state assembly on Thursday over a raft of issues including the delay in the MCD elections, alleged corruption in the civic bodies and the saffron party’s endorsement of Kashmir Files, a movie that depicts the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley.

In a nearly 20-minute speech, Kejriwal, who is also the national convener of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), said the BJP does not want elections in the municipalities since it was sure of its defeat. He alleged that the state election commission was directed by the Prime Minister’s Office to defer the polls.

“This would not have happened anywhere in the world that a PM is getting an election deferred by directly calling and sending a letter to the election commission. The BJP doesn’t want elections. The real purpose is not to unify the MCDs but to defer polls because the BJP is going to lose the elections. The people are so disappointed with corruption in the last 15 years that they want to teach the BJP a lesson this time,” Kejriwal said while participating in a discussion on the LG’s address to the House.

Fresh out of leading his party to an unprecedented victory in the Punjab assembly elections, Kejriwal gave no quarter to the eight BJP members, in the 70-member House. In response to an earlier demand by some BJP legislators that the movie Kashmir Files be made tax-free, Kejriwal asked BJP members if this is what they have joined politics for? He added that while the filmmaker was minting crores, the BJP members were reduced to promoting the movie and sticking up its posters.

“Is this why you have joined politics? To put up posters of films? What would you tell your children when they ask about your work. Movie ka poster lagata hoon? (I put up film posters)”, the AAP chief said, and asked the BJP members to join the AAP to do some real work for nation-building.

“Why are you asking us to make the movie tax-free. Ask Vivek Agnihotri (the filmmaker) to upload it on YouTube, it will be free and everyone will be able to see it,” Kejriwal said. Kashmir Files has been made tax-free in several BJP-ruled states.

Kejriwal slammed the BJP and the Congress over objections by some leaders of the two parties to the AAP’s move to put up pictures of BR Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh in government offices in Delhi and Punjab. “Babasaheb and Bhagat Singh are two shining stars of our history. We cannot compromise in honouring them,” Kejriwal said, calling the two parties anti-democracy.

The AAP chief said no leader or party is bigger than the country and the country should not let its democracy down, adding that BJP was planning to do away with elections in MCD “forever”. He said that a BJP leader informed him that the Centre could give MCDs an NDMC-like structure where no elections will be held, and there will be direct nominations from the Union government.

On March 9, the state election commission deferred the announcement of schedule for MCD elections citing a communication by the Centre that it intends to merge the three civic bodies in Delhi. On Tuesday, the Union Cabinet give its approval to a proposal to unify the three corporations. The state polls body on Wednesday said now the election schedule will depend on the details of the amendment Bill that is expected to be tabled in the Parliament next week.

“The BJP only wants to defer elections for the fear of AAP. Unification has nothing to do with it. Tomorrow, there might be no Modi-ji and Kejriwal but this country is here to stay, and its people matter more than we do. This country, its people, its constitution and democratic values must not be threatened but the BJP is hell bent on doing so,” Kejriwal said.

“People are saying BJP will lose Gujarat too. Will they now write to the central election commission asking them to defer Gujarat elections arguing that they want to merge the state with Maharashtra?” Kejriwal said.

“This clearly tells us that if the BJP was given a free reign, it would eradicate the process of elections throughout the country and snatch our democratic values from us,” the Delhi CM said.

Referring to the alleged rampant corruption in the three BJP-ruled MCDs, the AAP leader said that the BJP has done so much corruption that the Guinness Book of World Records might just recognise them for breaking all corruption records.

He challenged the BJP to face the AAP in MCD polls, and added that if even after ruling the country for eight years, the Prime Minister was forced to take the help of filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri (in creating a narrative) through Kashmir Files, then it means that the PM has done no work.

Addressing the BJP legislators directly, he said even Hitler gave jobs to his die-hard followers. “Did Prime Minister Narendra Modi even care to give your kids medicines when they needed them? It was our government who made sure that even the BJP workers get all medical help when needed. The BJP is making a fool out of its people. If you want, come and join the AAP. You will be given utmost respect, freedom and no one will make you put some movie posters on the streets,” Kejriwal said.

The state election commission officials did not comment on the CM’s allegations over the postponement of the MCD elections. Officials in the PMO could not be reached for a comment.

Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta said Kejriwal’s speech showed his insensitivity towards the plight of Kashmiri Pandits. “AAP has always supported the separatists’ demand for a referendum in Kashmir. Expecting such a party to praise Kashmir Files which shows the reality of the carnage of Hindus would be meaningless,” said Gupta, demanding that the movie should be made tax-free in Delhi.

Participating in the discussion in the House, leader of the opposition Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said that the Arvind Kejriwal government has failed on all fronts be it eduction, health environment or public transport.

“The schools are battling massive shortage of teachers.745 schools are without principals and 418 schools without vice principals, and posts of 24,000 teachers are vacant. The government did not fulfil its promise to regularise Anganwadi workers, ASHA workers and about 1.5 lakh contract employees working in different departments. In Delhi, the elderly and destitute women are not getting pension for years,” Bidhuri said.

Hitting out at the AAP government over pollution, Bidhuri said recently a survey found that Delhi is the most polluted capital of the world among 6475 cities of 17 countries. “For cleaning the Yamuna, the central government has given 2,419 crore to the Delhi government, but the Yamuna is still dirty. The major reason for pollution in Delhi is potholes filled roads and absence of sufficient public transport,” Bidhuri said, adding that 40% of the population of Delhi is not getting water from Delhi Jal Board.

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