New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders have defended Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s decision to stay away from the streets when masked intruders attacked JNU. They said if he had stepped out, it would’ve “played into the BJP’s hands”.
“We sent ambulances. Kejriwal ensured everyone was on their toes. We have been doing everything at our end,” a senior Aam Aadmi Party leader told ThePrint, adding how the party didn’t want to fall in the trap as Kejriwal stepping out would lead to more violence and aid the “BJP’s strategy to burn Delhi”.
As the violence was unleashed on the premier university Sunday evening, Kejriwal had tweeted that he was “shocked” by the events.
“I am so shocked to know abt the violence at JNU. Students attacked brutally. Police should immediately stop violence and restore peace.”
I am so shocked to know abt the violence at JNU. Students attacked brutally. Police shud immediately stop violence and restore peace. How will the country progress if our students will not be safe inside univ campus?
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) January 5, 2020
His response, however, drew flak with several users wondering why the chief minister wasn’t stepping out when “there was a need to act”.
Actor Huma Qureshi was among those who took to Twitter and urged the Delhi CM to “stop the madness and not be a bystander”.
Go and do something!! Stop this madness… This is the moment.. please don’t be a bystander
— Huma S Qureshi (@humasqureshi) January 5, 2020
It was sentiment shared by several journalists, including Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV, Amit Baruah of The Hindu, who all expressed their angst about Kejriwal’s absence from the scene.
Not the time to Tweet. You are the Chief Minister sir. Act! https://t.co/kmDSBsMoE1
— Sreenivasan Jain (@SreenivasanJain) January 5, 2020
Like the CM going there, maybe? the Deputy CM? Your other ministers and MLAs; putting pressure on the police to act?
— amit baruah (@abaruah64) January 5, 2020
AAP defends chief minister
In no time, however, AAP members began tweeting that the Delhi Police came under the Modi government and wondered why people were not “tagging” Home Minister Amit Shah instead of questioning Kejriwal.
That's what the BJP wants, for Delhi govt to walk into the trap that would escalate violence. The police has only one boss today, Amit Shah.
— Abhinandita Dayal Mathur (@abhinandita_m) January 5, 2020
Party media advisor Nagender Sharma also responded on Twitter that the Delhi government was with the students in this adversity but that the police reports to the Modi government.
Your bias is clearly showing.
Police reports to Central govt.
Delhi Govt has sent ambulances & is standing with students
Who are you sermonising??
— Nagendar Sharma (@sharmanagendar) January 5, 2020
AAP’s official Twitter handle also continued to tweet reiterating how Delhi government officials had sent out the health department officials to the campus and were constantly in touch with the ambulance staff to ensure medical help was being provided to the students.
Delhi Govt officials are constantly in touch with the ambulance staff and medical team who are trying provide medical help to injured students.
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) January 5, 2020
Kejriwal responded soon after, saying he had spoken to the L-G and that the situation was being monitored.
Spoke to Hon’ble LG and urged him to direct police to restore order. He has assured that he is closely monitoring the situation and taking all necessary steps https://t.co/gpRGCCbwGF
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) January 5, 2020
That too didn’t earn the chief minister any sympathy.
One social media user pointed out that each time Delhi is subjugated with brute force, none of these leaders are seen at the sight.
We did not see him when Jamia students were beaten brutally.
When each protest at Delhi is subjugated with brute force, no one seen him.
When women of #Shaheenbagh brave the cold, he was nowhere!
So stop expecting!
— James Wilson (@jamewils) January 5, 2020
“He can carry a rajai (blanket) and sleep on the street outside JNU as a protest. He has done this in the past,” tweeted another social media user.
Our leaders were on the ground: AAP
The AAP-led Delhi government is continuing to maintain that its leaders were out in the field and were being directed by Kejriwal.
Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh and Maharashtra wing chief Preeti Menon went to AIIMS Sunday night to ensure the injured were being provided proper treatment. Party MLA Somnath Bharati also followed soon after.
“If CM comes out, the blame will go onto him, since I witnessed the kind of sloganeering and mess there was in even at the AIIMs hospital last night,” Sanjay Singh told ThePrint.
He added that senior party leaders have been reassuring students since last night.
“Ever since Amit Shah has become HM, there are gang wars on the roads and no law and order in the national capital,” Singh added. “Why doesn’t anyone ask him? Or the PM? Or why don’t people ask where is Rahul Gandhi.”
Of late, the chief minister has shied away from controversy.
Kejriwal has steered clear of the polarising debate on the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and didn’t step out during the Jamia Millia Islamia protests.