Amidst loud cheers and table-thumping from the MLAs present in the assembly, Kejriwal slammed the BJP for helping “some people” make crores off of the suffering of Kashmiri Pandits.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday, March 24, launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Delhi assembly.
Kejriwal criticised both Modi and the BJP for promoting Vivek Agnihotri’s controversial film, The Kashmir Files; alleged failures on the part of the BJP in providing education, healthcare, and the like to the people of Delhi; and even compared the prime minister to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
The chief minister’s remarks came a day after BJP MLAs interrupted Delhi lieutenant-governor Anil Baijal’s address demanding that the film be exempted from taxes in the state.
Amidst widespread applause and table-thumping from the MLAs present in the Delhi assembly, Kejriwal claimed that BJP members have been putting up posters of the film. “Did you enter politics to do this?” he asked, going on to question the BJP’s efficacy over the past eight years that it has been in power at the center.
“If after eight years of ruling a country, a prime minister needs to seek refuge at the feet of Vivek Agnihotri, that means that that prime minister did nothing in those eight years,” Kejriwal told the assembly.
Responding to the demands that the film should be made tax-free, Kejriwal told BJP legislators to ask Agnihotri to upload the film to Youtube so it could be “free-free”. “Everyone can watch it in one day,” the chief minister said.
Kejriwal went on to mention a poster which advertised a free screening of the film at a park in Haryana’s Rewari, which carried with it a picture of former BJP MLA Randhir Singh Kapriwas, and to which Agnihotri responded on Twitter, urging Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar to stop the “criminal offense” of free screenings.
”Some people are earning crores of rupees in the name of Kashmiri Pandits and you (BJP) leaders have been asked to put up posters. What are you doing?” Kejriwal said.
Agnihotri’s film, which focuses on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits having to flee the Kashmir Valley due to terrorism, has sparked much controversy for portraying the issue in an over-simplified and excessively communalised way.
Responding to Kejriwal, BJP MP Manoj Tiwari called the Delhi chief minister a ‘Hindu Virodhi (opponent)”.
“He made fun of Hindus in the Assembly today and AAP MLAs were clapping. You will be able to please your vote bank, but it is clear the Kashmir genocide happened because of people like you,” the Indian Express quoted Tiwari as saying.
Similarly, BJP national general-secretary Dushyant Gautam accused Kejriwal of “insulting Kashmiri Pandits who have lost everything” and the party’s Delhi chief, Adesh Gupta told news agency PTI, “AAP had, in the past, supported the demand for a plebiscite by Kashmiri separatists…So, appreciation for The Kashmir Files cannot be expected from him (Kejriwal).”
Several BJP-ruled states have already made the film tax-free, including Haryana, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Tripura, and more.
Prime Minister Modi, himself, endorsed the film, alleging that concerted efforts were underway to “keep the truth from being told”.
Kejriwal went on to pull up the Modi government for its failure to provide socio-economic benefits to the people of Delhi.
“Even Hitler employed his lackeys. What did they (the BJP) give you? Did your children get jobs, did they make arrangements for food and power?” Kejriwal asked, adding that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) under Kejriwal provided free electricity to the people of Delhi, gave jobs to 12 lakh youths and improved schools and hospitals in the national capital.
“If someone is unwell in your house, Kejriwal gets them medicine, not Modi,” he continued.
Kejriwal then implored BJP workers to open their minds and “stop this mindless following”, telling them that they would be respected if they left the BJP and joined the AAP.
“…we will not make you raise false slogans and we won’t make you put up posters of these false movies either. We will work on nation-building together,” he said, amidst cheers in the assembly.