Modi Minister Anurag Thakur invokes ‘Desh ke gaddaron ko…’ slogan at Delhi rally
NEW DELHI : Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur triggered a row on Monday by purportedly using a controversial slogan while addressing an election rally in Rithala in Delhi.
A video posted on popular microblogging platform Twitter shows Thakur shouting ‘Desh ke gaddaron ko’, to which the crowd responds ‘goli maro saalon ko’ (Shoot the traitors of the nation)’.
In a widely-shared video, Mr Thakur, who was campaigning for the BJP candidate in North West Delhi, can be seen and heard chanting “desh ke gaddaron ko“, to which the crowd enthusiastically replied “goli maaro sa***n ko“; the entire chant translates to “shoot down the traitors who betray the country”.
The slogan, ‘Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maro saalon ko’ (Shoot the traitors of the nation) first came into prominence when it was used by former AAP politician Kapil Mishra, now contesting the forthcoming Delhi Assembly polls from Model Town constituency as a BJP candidate, at a rally in the capital on December 21 last year in support of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
The slogan apparently targeted those who take part in anti-CAA protests, and was condemned by civil society members and other quarters for inciting violence and politics of hatred. The Delhi BJP had then distanced itself from the controversy and said they had nothing to do with Mishra’s march.
The slogan was also raised at a pro-CAA rally in Nagpur addressed by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari in December and during violence at the Jawaharlal Nehru campus, when masked men entered the premises of the central university and unleashed violence for close to three hours, chanting slogans such as Desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro saalo ko; Naxalwad murdabad and Na Maowad, Na Naxalwan, Sabse Upar Rashtrawad.
Moreover, with Shaheen Bagh emerging as the centre of anti-CAA protests in Delhi, Home Minister Amit Shah has repeatedly raked up the indefinite protest site in his campaign speeches in the capital, urging voters to choose the lotus symbol on voting day, so that protesters have to leave the place by the evening of February 11.
Reacting to the news, BJP sources have claimed the second part of the slogan – “goli maaro sa***n ko (shoot down the traitors)” slogan was actually shouted by the crowd, although in the video shared online it appears the chant was a direct response to Mr Thakur’s slogan. The video also appears to show Mr Thakur unfazed by the crowd’s response.
Meanwhile, Election Commission officials have told NDTV a video of the speech – made at Rithala constituency – has been received and is being examined. “Necessary action” will be taken, said the constituency’s Returning Officer, who also noted that prima facie the candidate, Manish Chaudhary, had been present on stage when the slogan was being chanted.
However, the officer would not comment on the particulars of the action that could be taken against Anurag Thakur, apart from saying that if such a slogan was indeed raised, a response will be sought from the concerned person(s) through a notice. The full slogan has been heard at pro-Citizenship Amendment Act rallies as well.
Last week , BJP leader Kapil Mishra, who served a 48-hour campaigning ban over the weekend for tweets Delhi Police said were “creating enmity among classes”, appeared to chant the same slogan during a march in support of the controversial law.
According to reports, the slogan was also heard during the attack on students and staff of Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) earlier this month, in which 34 were injured. According to news agency ANI the slogan was also heard at a pro-CAA rally in Maharashtra’s Nagpur last month, at which people were waving the BJP flag.
Delhi will vote to fill its 70-member assembly on February 8 with results due February 11. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), currently in power, will hope to replicate its massive victory from five years earlier, when it claimed 67 of those seats, leaving only three for the BJP and none for the Congress.