‘BJP’s Delhi Polls Performance Suffered Due to ‘Goli Maro’ Chants,’ Says Amit Shah
NEW DELHI : Union Minster Amit Shah today admitted that hate speeches by a section of BJP leaders should not have been made ahead of Delhi assembly polls. Such speeches could have hurt the party’s chances in the election, he said while speaking at the Times Now Summit 2020.
The home minister said his assessment on Delhi elections went wrong but asserted that the result of the polls was not a mandate on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
“No one has said bahu betiyon ka balatkar karenge (wives and daughters will be raped). But the rest — goli maaro, Indo-Pak match — those also should not have made. The party distanced itself immediately,” Amit Shah said, speaking for the first time since the Delhi election results were announced on Tuesday.
Amit Shah on Thursday said statements like ‘goli maro‘ and ‘Indo-Pak match’ should not have been made by BJP leaders while campaigning for the Delhi Assembly elections and that such remarks may have cost the party dearly.
He, however, said the BJP does not fight elections just for victory or defeat but believes in expanding its ideology through polls. “Such statements should not have been made. Our party has distanced itself from such remarks,” he said at a media programme.
Shah was asked a question about a few BJP leaders raising slogans like ‘goli maro saalon ko’ (shoot the traitors) and talking about the ‘India-Pakistan match’ during the Delhi elections campaigning. He admitted that the BJP may have suffered in the polls because of the statements made by some of its leaders. “It is possible that our performance may have suffered because of this,” he said.
Shah said his assessment on Delhi elections went wrong but asserted that the result of the polls was not a mandate on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) or the National Register of Citizens (NRC). He said anyone who wants to discuss issues related to CAA with him can seek time from his office. “(We) will give time within three days,” he added.
Strongly defending the CAA, which provides for Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, the home minister said there is no such provision in the new law that will take away the citizenship of Muslims.
“We have never discriminated against anyone on the ground of religion. There is no provision in the CAA which says that citizenship of Muslims will be revoked. Don’t just criticise CAA, but discuss it on the basis of merits. CAA is neither anti-Muslim nor anti-minority. I am ready to meet anyone, but discussions need to happen on merit. Unfortunately, nobody wants to come forward and discuss CAA,” he said.
Shah also said that so far the government has not taken any decision on rolling out the NRC for the whole country and made it clear that those unwilling to show documents during the the National Population Register exercise were free to do so. He, however, said the NRC was a promise of the BJP in its election manifesto. Asked about the ongoing agitations against the CAA, Shah said everyone has a right to peaceful protest but violence is not justified.
“We tolerate non-violent protests, but vandalism can’t be tolerated. Silent protest is a democratic right,” he said. On Jammu and Kashmir, Shah said everyone, including politicians, are free to visit the newly-created Union Territory whenever they want to and there is no restriction on anyone’s movement.
Asked about the detention of three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti – he said it was a decision of the local administration to charge them under the Public Safety Act. Omar Abdullah has approached the Supreme Court and let the judiciary take a decision on it, he said.
Many on social media pointed out that the BJP has not taken action against any of the leaders who crossed the line. A few of them, including Anurag Thakur, had received penalties from the Election Commission.
Mr Shah also added that his “assessment” about the number of seats the party would have won has gone wrong. “I firmly believed our party would have won with majority. I don’t mind accepting it… Most times I have been correct, this time i wasn’t,” he added, as elsewhere, the party conducted a post mortem of its poor performance.The BJP performance in the Delhi elections fell far short of expectation.
Meanwhile, AAP and other the opposition parties interpreted the mandate as a rejection of the BJP strategy. In a tweet, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “Leaders playing on faith through hate speech & divisive politics should take a cue, as only those who deliver on their promises are rewarded”.
In the run up to the election, a number of BJP leaders, including Union Minister Anurag Thakur, had mentioned Shaheen Bagh – the epicentre of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act — in hate speeches.
In a widely circulated video, AnuragThakur was seen egging on a crowd to chant slogans that roughly translates to “shoot down traitors who betray the country”. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP’s star campaigner Yogi Adityanath had also approved the use of bullets to deal with traitors.
Party MP Parvesh Verma had said: “Lakhs of people gather there (Shaheen Bagh). They will enter your houses, rape your sisters and daughters, kill them. There’s time today… Modi-ji and Amit Shah won’t come to save you tomorrow”.