So far, the AAP under Arvind Kejriwal has managed to keep the elections focussed on local issues and its performance. The BJP, however, is determined to change this narrative.
Delhi Assembly Election 2020: With a little over a week left for the Delhi elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Home minister Amit Shah, is set to ramp up the heat on Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party on the issue of Shaheen Bagh protests. As per sources privy to the development, Shah, in a message to the 67 party candidates in Delhi, has asked them to question the AAP government’s silence on the Shaheen Bagh protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens that have continued for well over a month now.
A total of 150 BJP leaders are set to hit the campaign trail in Delhi from Monday and the Shaheen Bagh protests will feature as the most prominent issue. The BJP leaders are set to question Kejriwal on his silence on the continuing protests and ask him to clarify AAP’s stand on the matter.
The Aam Aadmi Party has been measured in its response to the flashpoint between a section of citizens and the government over CAA, which they see as divisive and anti-Muslim. The AAP, which takes pride in its secular credentials, has not taken a clear stand on the matter, insisting that the elections be fought on local issues. Even its leaders have strategically stayed away from the protest venue.
Although AAP leaders like Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh have indicated their support to the Shaheen Bagh protesters, there is a clear attempt by the AAP not to allow it to become an election issue. Questioned over the party’s measured stand on the matter, Sisodia told News18 in an interview that the elections will be polarised, albeit on the issue of work instead of religious grounds. “We stand with the truth. There are many issues which are in courts, some are under investigation and some in the media. You tell us where the truth is and we stand with them,” Sisodia said, refusing to spell out a clear stand on the matter.
The BJP, which is seen trailing behind the AAP in the coming elections, is keen to exploit this lack of consistency on part of the ruling party and Kejriwal. The idea behind Shah’s plan is to bring the CAA issue to centre stage, draw Kejriwal out of his comfort zone and force him to take clear sides on the Shaheen Bagh protests. “When you press the EVM button on February 8, do so with such anger that its current (poll result) is felt at Shaheen Bagh,” the former BJP president said addressing a rally in the capital on Sunday, making the party’s stand abundantly clear. Voting for the BJP in Delhi polls will prevent “thousands of incidents like Shaheen Bagh”, he said, adding, that voting for the BJP will ensure that Delhi and the country are in safe hands.
The Shaheen Bagh protests, driven largely by women, have continued since mid-December when the Parliament passed the contentious law, and have turned into a symbol of anti-CAA protests across the country. A large section of citizens, from politicians to film and theatre personalities and activists have joined the protests against the government. The protests have led to the blockade of a busy section road connecting Delhi to Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad, causing inconvenience to school children, senior citizens and office-goers. The BJP, as part of its plan, will question Kejriwal and his government on whether AAP can turn a blind eye to the hardships caused to citizens by the protesters.