Rajat Sharma

AAP cannot say that Shaheen Bagh is not a major election issue in Delhi

AKB2610As the voters of the national capital go to assembly polls on February 8, questions arise over what are the burning issues in the current elections.

BJP, led by its Home Minister Amit Shah, has marshalled a bunch of political heavyweights like former MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, to raise the Citizenship Amendment Act issue in the poll campaign.

On the other hand, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and leaders of his Aam Aadmi Party are trying their best to avoid making any statements on CAA and Shaheen Bagh issues. India TV hosted a daylong conclave ‘Chunav Manch’ in Delhi on Wednesday, where BJP leaders and Union ministers openly spoke on Shaheen Bagh protests,

On the other hand, AAP leaders including Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh, avoided making any comment at the India TV conclave on the Shaheen Bagh protests. They also refrained from speaking on JNU student Sharjeel Imam’s video of his anti-national speech in AMU, for which he was arrested after a three-day hunt in Bihar.

The AAP leaders also chose to refrain from speaking on violence in JNU and Jamia Millia, both Central universities located in Delhi. They preferred to concentrate on issues like free water, cheap electricity, modernized schools and hospitals and Mohalla clinics, on which the AAP leaders believe, they are on a strong footing.

All the senior BJP leaders who took part in the India TV conclave and the party poll campaign, concentrated on Shaheen Bagh, JNU and Sharjeel Imam issues. They presented a clear choice before the Delhi voters: Will you support those in ‘Tukde Tukde’ gang who want to dismember India, or will you stand in support of those who are in favour of the slogan ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal want the voters of Delhi to decide on water, electricity, education and hospital issues and avoid issues like CAA and Shaheen Bagh. Amit Shah’s reply is simple: Is Shaheen Bagh not in Delhi? Thousands in Delhi are facing problems because of closed arterial roads and shops. Amit Shah is openly telling voters in Delhi to punch the EVM button for BJP so hard that it could resonate in Shaheen Bagh.

I understand Kejriwal’s dilemma. He wants the Muslims in Delhi to vote for AAP, but he does not want to alienate the massive vote bank of Hindu voters on the tricky CAA issue. Clearly, the AAP leaders are making a tight rope walk. At all forums, they say that they are in support of Shaheen Bagh protesters, but not a single AAP leader has gone to Shaheen Bagh to express solidarity with Muslim women and children sitting on dharna since last 47 days.

BJP’s logic is simple: If AAP leaders want to indulge in politics by appeasing Muslims, then why shouldn’t BJP be allowed to indirectly appease Hindu voters? Consciously, or unconsciously, Shaheen Bagh and Sharjeel Imam have become big issues in the Delhi elections. Let the voters decide.

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