'Shaheen Bagh' takes centre stage in BJP's poll campaign
New Delhi, Jan 27: 'Shaheen Bagh' has gradually taken the centre stage in the BJP's election campaign in Delhi, pitchforking its nationalist agenda which has virtually overshadowed its polls plank of development work by the Centre.
Top BJP leaders, party president J P Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other union ministers -- who have been holding at least two-three public meeting everyday -- have repeatedly hit out at the opposition parties for backing the protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Act in south Delhi, which has been attracting thousands everyday since mid-December.
Addressing a press conference on Monday, senior BJP leader and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged the protest site is emerging as "a textbook case of a few hundred people trying to suppress the silent majority".
He also claimed that those trying to fragment India are getting cover at Shaheen Bagh protest where the tricolour is being waved.
The party has also targeted Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the remarks made by Sharjeel Imam, a JNU student, and one of the initial organisers of the Shaheen Bagh protest.
At a rally in Rithala, Shah on Monday dared Kejriwal to visit Shaheen Bagh so that people of Delhi can decide who to vote for in the February 8 election.
He said the Delhi Police has booked Imam on sedition charge for his comment of "trying to cut the chicken's neck" and break the northeast from the rest of the country.
"I want to ask Kejriwal whether he is in favour of apprehending Sharjeel Imam or not? Whether you are with the people of Shaheen Bagh or not, please tell the people of Delhi," Shah said.
On Sunday, the Union Home Minister said voting for the BJP in Delhi polls will prevent "thousands of incidents like Shaheen Bagh".
A senior Delhi BJP leader cited an internal survey claiming there were around 30 per cent voters who are still largely undecided about who to vote. The BJP, which is attempting to return to power in Delhi after two decades, has been focusing on this segment of voters, he said.
Hundreds of women have been protesting at the Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The sit-in, which has been on for more than a month now, has received both support as well criticism.
Its critics claim that the protestors have blocked the road, causing inconvenience to many, including students, motorists.
There have been other protest sites like Shaheen Bagh in the national capital as well as other parts of the country.
The Delhi Police, which takes care of law and order in the national capital and comes under the Centre, has so far only made appeals to the protestors but that has not worked. In response to a plea, the Delhi High Court on January 14 did not order removal of traffic restrictions.
The court said no direction can be issued by it on how to handle an agitation or the place of protest and the traffic as it depended on ground reality and wisdom of police.
Addressing party workers last month, Shah had said the BJP will fight the polls under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and highlight the developmental work carried out in the national capital by the Centre in the last five years.
However, since last week the BJP has maintained its attack on the AAP and the Congress over their opposition to the CAA, which is a part of the saffron party's nationalist agenda, and the Shaheen Bagh protest.
In a rally last week, Shah accused Kejriwal of speaking Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's language and alleged the ruling AAP had engineered riots over the CAA, and the national capital will be unsafe if Kejriwal-led party is voted back to power.
He had also hit out at Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who told a TV channel that he stood with Shaheen Bagh protesters, and said the AAP has worked to disrupt peace in the city.
Union minister and BJP leader Giriraj Singh, known for his controversial remarks, accused the AAP and Congress of having links with Shaheen Bagh protest and asked the people if they will vote for such parties.
"Let's go with Modi and have a BJP government in Delhi. Cast your votes thinking of India's honour," he said in a video message posted on Twitter.