New Delhi: In his first comments after the Delhi Assembly election results were declared on February 11, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said BJP leaders should not have made statements like "goli maaro" (shoot them) and "Indo-Pakistan match" in the run-up to the polls.
Shah said the party may have suffered because of hate statements made by its leaders.
"Such statements should not have been made. Our party has distanced itself from such remarks," he said at an event here.
Shah said the BJP, however, does not fight elections just for victory or defeat but believes in expanding its ideology through polls.
The BJP won eight of the 70 seats in the Assembly elections, with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sweeping 62 seats. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will be sworn in as the chief minister for the third time.
When asked about a few BJP leaders raising slogans like "goli maaro" and talking about the "Indo-Pak match" during the Delhi campaign, Shah admitted that the party may have suffered in the polls because of those statements.
"It is possible that our performance may have suffered because of this," he said.
At an election rally in Delhi's Rithala on February 8, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur was caught on camera making inflammatory comments. Seen clapping his hands over his head, Thakur chanted, "Desh ke gaddaron ko (traitors of the country)...", with the crowd responding with "goli maaro s****n ko (shoot them all)".
BJP candidate Kapil Mishra, meanwhile, had likened the election in the city to an India versus Pakistan contest. He made the controversial comment in a tweet. The Delhi Police later lodged an FIR against him on the direction of poll authorities.
Shah said his assessment on Delhi elections went wrong but asserted that the result was not a mandate on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) or the National Register of Citizens (NRC). He said anyone who wants to discuss issues related to the CAA with him can seek time from his office. "(We) will give time within three days," he added.
Strongly defending the CAA, which provides for Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, Shah said there is no such provision in the new law that will take away the citizenship of Muslims.
"We have never discriminated against anyone on the ground of religion. There is no provision in the CAA which says that citizenship of Muslims will be revoked. Don't just criticise CAA, but discuss it on the basis of merits. It is neither anti-Muslim nor anti-minority," he said. "I am ready to meet anyone, but discussions need to happen on merit. Unfortunately, nobody wants to come forward and discuss CAA."
(With inputs from PTI)