Smarting from the political attack over his “UP, Bihar, Delhi de bhaiye remark”, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has launched a counter strike on his Delhi counterpart and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal over his former party colleague Kumar Vishwas’s remarks.
Late yesterday night, Mr Channi shared a copy of the Election Commission’s letter withdrawing the bar on broadcasting recent remarks of Mr Vishwas that have triggered a row.
In the accompanying post, the Punjab Chief Minister urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order a probe into the matter. “Politics aside, people of Punjab have paid a heavy price while fighting separatism. Hon’ble PM needs to address the worry of every Punjabi,” he said in a veiled attack at Mr Kejriwal, with whom he has been trading barbs in the run-up to the Punjab polls where AAP is a prime challenger.
In a video that has now gone viral and provided Mr Kejriwal’s political rivals with ammunition amid the heated campaign for Assembly polls in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, Mr Vishwas accused Mr Kejriwal of being power-hungry.
Mr Vishwas is seen in the video recounting an old conversation with the AAP convener. “One day, he (Mr Kejriwal) told me he would either become CM (of Punjab) or first PM of an independent nation (Khalistan)… he wants power at any cost,” he is heard saying.
Responding to the uproar over Mr Vishwas’s remarks, AAP tweeted a clip from an interview of Mr Kejriwal. “They are saying Delhi’s Chief Minister is planning to bifurcate India and becoming the Prime Minister of one part. Is this believable,” the AAP tweeted. At a swipe directed at Mr Vishwas, the party added, “He is a comic-poet, he says anything. (Prime Minister) Modi and (Congress leader) Rahul ji took it seriously.”
Prime Minister Modi referred to Mr Vishwas’s remarks at a rally in Punjab yesterday and alleged that Mr Kejriwal and his party have the “same agenda” as Pakistan — “to break India… to join hands with separatists to get power”. The allegations, he said, should be taken seriously by every voter and citizen.
The video has also provided Mr Channi with an opportunity to hit back at his Delhi counterpart at a time when he is under fire for his “UP, Bihar, Delhi de bhaiye” remark.
During a poll rally with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Punjab, Mr Channi had said: “Priyanka Gandhi is Punjab’s daughter-in-law, she is the bahu of Punjabis. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi de bhaiye cannot come here and rule. We will not allow UP bhaiyas to stray into Punjab.”
What followed was a huge political backlash. Among the first to hit out was Mr Kejriwal, who called the remarks “shameful”. “It is very shameful. We strongly condemn comments aimed at any individual or any particular community,” Mr Kejriwal said.
Mr Channi later issued a clarification and said his statement was twisted. “I only meant people like Durgesh Pathak, Sanjay Singh and Arvind Kejriwal (Aam Aadmi Party leaders) who come from outside and cause disruptions,” he said in a video statement.