File photo of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan at Parliament House | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
File photo of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan at Parliament House | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
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New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is nowhere on the ground but is visible only in advertisements and ‘paid news’ for which Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has spent lakhs, said Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

Predicting a massive victory for the BJP in the upcoming Delhi assembly elections, Harsh Vardhan said the AAP has been making ‘CM face’ an issue as they have no other issue to counter the BJP with.

The BJP has not yet announced its chief ministerial candidate. The party has been out of power in Delhi for over two decades now.

“I can say with 100 per cent confidence that a BJP government will come to power in Delhi. All our leaders are campaigning every day. Every day we get a response that people want to get rid of this corrupt, jhooti sarkar. Every day people tell us that they still fondly remember the BJP government of Madan Lal Khurana, Sahib Singh Verma (former BJP CMs),” Harsh Vardhan told ThePrint.

“The AAP that won 67 seats could not get a single seat in the Lok Sabha elections. They don’t have an agenda or issue that’s why they raise the CM issue,” Harsh Vardhan said.

“Ours is a cadre-based party where individuals don’t matter. (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is our face who has given a corruption-free government, (he) has launched so many schemes for the public. The CM post is not my concern. I have to just do whatever work is given to me,” he said, when asked if he could lead the party if the BJP comes to power.

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Also read: How Modi, Shah & Yogi couldn’t stop talking about Shaheen Bagh in Delhi election rallies

‘AAP playing politics over Shaheen Bagh’

On the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests that have been going on in the capital since December, Harsh Vardhan said the protests are politically motivated.

He added that from PM Modi to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, everyone has clarified that the CAA doesn’t exclude Indian Muslims.

“But the Delhi government is still spreading rumours and is supporting the anti-CAA protests. We have not done anything illegal. Our manifesto clearly mentioned about the CAA and all the other schemes that we have passed one after the other. So why the hue and cry over it? It is the AAP MLAs and the leaders who are playing politics over Shaheen Bagh,” he said.

“We have deputy CM Manish Sisodia making statements like ‘I am with Shaheen Bagh’, what kind of message does it give? They are doing vote bank politics and nothing else,” he added.

In the run-up to the assembly polls, scheduled on 8 February, Shaheen Bagh — the most prominent cite of anti-CAA protests in Delhi — has become an election issue, with many BJP leaders making controversial speeches about the protesters.

On Adityanath & biryani

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said the people of Delhi need to decide whether they wanted a Kejriwal-led government, which “feeds biryani” to Shaheen Bagh protesters and tries to create anarchy, or a government that believes in faith as well as development.

Harsh Vardhan defended Adityanath’s statement. “There’s nothing wrong in what the UP CM Yogi Adityanath had said about Kejriwal serving biryani to Shaheen Bagh protesters. They are serving them biryani and AAP leaders are supporting the anti-CAA protests being carried out there,” Vardhan added.

Although he refused to react to BJP minister Anurag Thakur’s and party MP Parvesh Verma’s controversial speeches, Harsh Vardhan said: “Personally, I feel people should follow restraint while speaking.”

The BJP, which had initially countered the Arvind Kejriwal government on issues of governance, changed its strategy and shifted the narrative completely to the anti-CAA protests, especially the ones taking place in Shaheen Bagh.

Sources in the BJP said the move came after many in the party received feedback that their campaign had started to pick up since leaders started focusing on Shaheen Bagh and Jamia protests against the CAA.

Also read: No soft Hindutva, no Left Revolution, Kejriwal establishing a new centre in Indian politics


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