New Delhi: Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday accused them of trying to "crush" the Aam Aadmi Party in the name of fighting corruption. Mr Kejriwal claimed that the BJP feared a defeat in the Gujarat Assembly polls.
Addressing the first-ever national conclave of his party's elected representatives, Mr Kejriwal alleged that the Modi government has been trying to frame his party ministers and leaders in false corruption cases as the BJP is "not able to digest the growing popularity of the AAP in Gujarat".
The Delhi chief minister defended his deputy Manish Sisodia, jailed minister Satyendar Jain and MLA Amanatullah Khan, who are facing corruption charges, alleging that the Modi government has put the CBI, the ED and other agencies after his leaders to frame them in "false cases".
"It's a conspiracy to crush AAP, not a fight against corruption. They just want to stop AAP," he charged.
Retorting to the AAP’s allegations, the BJP said that the AAP is resorting to the "old drama" it does before every election and dubbed Mr Kejriwal a "megalomaniac".
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra accused the AAP chief of "glorifying" corruption and said he has a history of defending his "tainted" colleagues before they are forced to quit because of irrefutable evidence.
Besides 92 AAP MLAs from Punjab, 62 MLAs from Delhi and two MLAs from Goa, more than 1,400 elected representatives of urban local bodies and panchayats from across 20 states participate in the party's "Rashtriya Janpratinidhi Sammelan". Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann, who is in Germany, participated through videoconferencing.
Speaking at the party’s national conclave, Mr Kejriwal said the AAP is being discussed all over Gujarat, despite the mainstream media "being threatened against giving any coverage to the party" as social media has provided people with access to information.
"The AAP is just a 10-year-old party. It is fighting with powerful forces and killing many devils like corruption and price rise, just the way Kanha (Lord Krishna) killed many devils when he was young," he said.
The Delhi chief minister said the BJP is rattled by his party's growing popularity in Gujarat. "We are going to form our government in Gujarat," he asserted.
Mr Kejriwal alleged the BJP has "purchased" 285 MLAs all over the country so far to topple other parties' governments under "Operation Lotus" and "spent `7,000-8,000 crores" on it.
"You are committing corruption by buying MLAs openly with looted money. Yet, you have the audacity to say from the ramparts of the Red Fort that you are fighting against corruption," he charged in a veiled attack on the Prime Minister.
Mr Kejriwal also targeted the Prime Minister and the BJP over their pitch against "freebies", saying they are against it as they are not able to figure out how to fund free facilities for people.
"They are neither able to swallow the ‘revadi' nor throw it out," he said.
The Delhi chief minister said free facilities can be given to people and there would be no dearth of money to fund them if the governments are honest.
"Only a dishonest (person), a corrupt and a traitor will say freebies are not good for the country. If any politician says freebies will ruin the country's economy, consider his intentions are wrong and he wants to loot people and waive loans of his friends," he added.
Mr Kejriwal claimed that the AAP leaders are being implicated in "false corruption cases" as the BJP is not able to digest its "honest politics, freebies, and work in the education and health sectors".
The Delhi chief minister said more AAP leaders will be arrested in the coming days and asked the party leaders to be ready to go to jail "for three months".
"After three months, they won't be able to do any harm to you," he said.
The BJP is so rattled by the AAP's growing influence ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections that "the prime minister's media advisor Hiren Joshi has warned several (television) channels' owners and their editors not to give coverage to the AAP in Gujarat, threatening them with dire consequences," the party's national convener alleged.
Mr Kejriwal, however, did not give any evidence to back his allegation. No immediate reaction to the AAP chief's charges was made from the PMO or Mr Joshi.
As Mr Kejriwal made big claims about his party's prospects and his government's work in Delhi, Mr Patra said the AAP chief is all about "doing little and making a lot of noise".
Making light of Mr Kejriwal's claims, the BJP spokesperson said Gujarat has been on a development path for decades under the BJP rule and will remain so.
"We are surprised that he did not say that US president Joe Biden is also afraid of the AAP," Mr Patra said in a swipe at Mr Kejriwal.
It seems Mr Kejriwal's certificate on honesty and dishonesty is more important than that of the judiciary, he added....