BJP leader and Union minister Anurag Thakur who encouraged incendiary slogans at an election rally in Delhi on Monday, seemed to place the blame on people, saying he had only asked a question to which the crowd had responded.
At the rally, Thakur, the minister of state for finance, shouted “desh ke gaddaron ko” to which the crowd responded, “goli maro saalon ko” (shoot down the traitors).
The Delhi CEO Office has sought a report from the North West district’s election officer in connection with the rally during which Thakur egged on the crowd, officials said.
The incident has triggered a row, drawing sharp reaction form the Congress which demanded that the Election Commission (EC) take action against Thakur.
Delhi is set to vote for its 70-member assembly on February 8. Thakur was addressing a meeting in support of the BJP candidate from Rithala, Manish Chaudhary.
Videos of the incident show Thakur did not merely ask the question, he raised his hands and clapped them in encouragement as the crowd responded with ‘goli maro’ several times.
Thakur linked opposition parties with anti-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh and with alleged anti-India slogans.
The minister later told Indian Express that he had merely asked people what should be done with traitors of the country. “I just wanted people to say what is to be done with traitors of the country. It could have evoked a response like ‘vote them out’ or ‘throw them out’. But it was the people who reacted so.”.
Candidate Manish Chaudhary backed Thakur saying: “Anuragji just said, desh ke gaddaron ko.”
Thakur clarified to Express that he had meant to ask people to stay away from “those who want to break the country into pieces”.
Here’s what he told the daily:
“It was the people who wanted the traitors to be out. What I was asking people whether they wanted to support those who stand with the Shaheen Bagh protesters or the tukde tukde gang. While (AAP leader) Manish Sisodia declared his support for Shaheen Bagh protesters, Rahul Gandhi went to back those who want to break India into pieces.”
“I wanted people to throw them away by pressing (the voting button) for the BP. I just asked them to say that. My question was whether they want to back Arvind Kejriwal or Rahul Gandhi. They reacted. What can I do? My simple question to both Kejriwal and Gandhi is: where do they stand? For those building India or breaking India.”
According to PTI, this inflammatory slogan has been raised by some junior BJP leaders recently, including Kapil Mishra, but this is the first time a party functionary at the level of a Union minister has said it publicly.
Incidentally, Kapil Mishra has been given a ticket by the BJP to fight the Delhi election.
At the rally, Thakur is also heard telling the crowd to raising the slogan so loudly that Giriraj Singh, a Hindutva leader and a Union minister, can hear it. BJP’s Rithala candidate is seen as a protegee of Giriraj Singh.
During the attack on JNU earlier this month, many reported that this slogan was chanted by the mob at the varsity gate.
The slogan was also heard at a pro-CAA rally in Nagpur last month, organised by the BJP and RSS.
Kirti Azad, head of Delhi Congress’ campaign committee, said it was the BJP’s leaders who were the “real traitors” because they are working to “destroy” peace and amity, NDTV quoted.
The Congress has demanded that the Election Commission (EC) take action against Thakur for instigating violence.
A senior official in the Delhi CEO Office told PTI, “We have taken cognisance of the incident and have sought a report from the district election officer. However, we have not received any complaint so far.”