Just over six years into the game, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which routed the Congress in the 2015 Delhi Assembly polls, is now giving the BJP a taste of its own political tricks as it gears up for the Lok Sabha battle.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been using cows, temples and nationalism as tools to attack the opposition in the run up to the polls. The AAP is now aping the BJP even while not copying it in toto.
The AAP, formed in 2012, earlier focussed only on the work done by the Delhi government on the health and education sectors. They would challenge BJP and Congress governments on the condition of schools and healthcare in their states.
The same AAP leaders are now increasingly accusing the BJP of not doing much for the welfare of cows. And in January, the party took out a rally charging the BJP government with damaging temples in Uttar Pradesh.
In recent speeches, party chief Arvind Kejriwal has alleged that the BJP has not done much for cow welfare. At an election rally in Haryana, he said the cows in Delhi were treated much better than in Haryana. Kejriwal also claimed that his government was spending Rs 40 on each cow a day against a meagre 40 paise by the Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana.
Last month, accusing the BJP-led MCD of not giving funds to a cowshed in Delhi’s Bawana area, Kejriwal said the BJP seeks votes in cow’s name but was not providing food for them.
Asked if there was a shift in the party’s strategy, Delhi Minister and senior AAP leader Gopal Rai told IANS that the AAP was not doing politics in the name of cow.
“We are not seeking votes in cows’ name but are talking about their welfare and working for that. Animals are also a part of the system. Last month, we brought the first animal welfare policy in the city.
“All parties and governments should work for the welfare of cows and other animals. Seeking votes in their name and not working for them is wrong. The BJP is seeking votes in the name of cows but is not working for its welfare,” Rai said.
Party MP Sanjay Singh last month took out a two-day ‘Bhajpa Bhagao, Bhagwan Bachao Yatra’ (Oust BJP, Save God rally) from Ayodhya to Varanasi, opposing the alleged demolition of temples for building a Kashi Vishwanath corridor in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency.
Singh told IANS that while the BJP sought votes in the name of building a Ram temple, it was demolishing old and historic temples in Varanasi. “So I want to tell the people that the party is a fake caretaker of Hindu religion.”
Explaining the reason for raking up the temple issue, Singh said that it was important to expose the BJP’s “true face”.
“Look at the condition of cows in Uttar Pradesh. They move freely on roads and farms. They not only cause accidents but destroy crops. People are dying, and so are cows,” the AAP MP said.
He also said the AAP was talking about cows and temples as they were also important issues but it will continue to focus on health and education.
The BJP has used the stick of nationalism against its rivals. Now, the AAP is doing that to Prime Minister Modi.
In his Republic Day speech, Kejriwal had said that being a patriot does not mean you should kill a person of a particular religion and urged people to fill their hearts with love for the country and not to hate people from any religion or group.
AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said the party took this path as the BJP was creating a negative image of the AAP among the public.
“People told us that we are anti-Hindu. We realised that there is propaganda going on against us. The BJP is using fake news, WhatsApp messages to paint us anti-Hindus.
“Our schemes are either without any religion or are for all religions. But still, fake propaganda is going on,” he said.
So, is the AAP different from the BJP or not?
He said: “We will never support the killing of people for politics. This is the difference. Our concept of cow welfare is different from BJP’s cow politics, where they are ready to kill people just in the name of cows.”