Shaheen Bagh becomes election issue in Delhi

Amit Shah dares Kejriwal to visit protest site

Shaheen Bagh becomes election issue in Delhi

Union Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad addresses the media on CAA during a press conference in New Delhi on Monday. PTI

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 27

The ongoing anti-CAA protest at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh is turning out to be the biggest political issue governing the high-stake February 8 Assembly elections in the National Capital.

While political parties dared each other to visit the protest site and clear their stance, the question remains which of three main players — the incumbent AAP, the main challenger BJP or the also-in-the-race Congress — will benefit from deep divisions and polarisation over the issue.

While reports of Shaheen Bagh-type protests emerge from across India, the BJP questioned incumbent CM Arvind Kejriwal over his silence and also accused him of “supporting” those who had raised “seditious” slogans.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah dared Kejriwal to visit the protest site so that people of Delhi could make up mind who to vote for.

“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 told an election rally. Imam, incidentally, is one of “initial organisers” of the protest.

Meanwhile, accusing protesters of trying to suppress views of a “peaceful majority” over CAA, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned the “silence” of Kejriwal and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi while “standing with the tukde tukde gang”.

“Shaheen Bagh is not an area anymore, it is an idea, where the Indian flag is being used as a cover for the people who want to divide the country, it is being supported by tukde-tukde gang,” he said calling it a textbook case of a few hundred people seeking to suppress the peaceful majority.

“It is offering platform to ‘tukde tukde gang’ elements under the garb of opposition to CAA. It is not just a protest against CAA it is a protest against Modi,” Prasad said.

Retaliating, Kejriwal accused the BJP of letting the protest drag for political reasons, blaming it for protests causing inconvenience to residents. “People are being inconvenienced due to the road blockade at Shaheen Bagh. The BJP doesn’t want the road to be opened,” he said, asking its leaders to immediately go to Shaheen Bagh and talk to them (protesters) and get the road reopened. “A fact also is that law and order in Delhi is the responsibility of the Centre,” he added.

Realising its potential to polarise, the Opposition parties which are accusing the BJP of using issues like CAA and NPR of trying to divert the people’s attention from the real issues — poor state of economy, joblessness and the associated in the country — are treading extremely cautiously on the issue. Polarisation is most likely to help the BJP, this both Kejriwal and the Congress know well.

Attempting to corner Kejriwal, BJP president JP Nadda also accused him of “supporting” those who “raised seditious anti-India slogans” like “Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid”. “Law enforcement agencies moved in, investigated the matter and were ready to file a chargesheet. They sought Kejriwal’s permission to prosecute this tukde tukde gang, but a year later, till yesterday, no permission was granted. Kejriwal must tell Delhi why is he supporting those who want to break India? Is it because acting against these anti-nationals will hurt his vote bank?” Nadda said.

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