New Delhi: The protest in Shaheen Bagh is "totally communal" and has left others worried, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said on Wednesday as he defended the controversial comments of BJP leaders during the Delhi poll campaign, arguing they stand for the country's integrity while the other side is "against" it.
Here to campaign for the BJP, Rupani in an interview to PTI also spoke against the Arvind Kejriwal government's freebies like free power and free transport, saying states cannot progress through such "cheap popularity" and that money should be spent in building infrastructure and schemes to boost people's income.
Slamming the anti-CAA protests, especially in Shaheen Bagh here, Rupani said they serve no purpose and are meant to "mislead and instigate" people despite statements from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah that the amended citizenship law is not about taking away anybody's citizenship.
"Who are the people sitting there (Shaheen Bagh)? Which community do they belong to? Why are they sitting there? It is totally communal. So it is natural that others are worried.
"Unfortunately, people who are working against the country's integrity are behind the Shaheen Bagh protest. For this reason, it has become an issue in the Delhi polls. People of Delhi are worried and are thinking of national interest while those part of 'tukde tukde' have communalised the protest," he said.
He blamed the Congress, Kejriwal and groups linked to JNU for the protest.
The BJP has been pulling out all the stops to oust the ruling Aam Aadmi Party from power, with its top brass pitchforking the Shaheen Bagh protest at the centre of their intensive campaign which has seen participation of its senior leaders, including chief ministers and Union ministers besides Home Minster Amit Shah and party president J P Nadda.
Asked about the controversial comments of some BJP leaders, including a slogan raised by Union minister Anurag Thakur, Rupani shot back, asking what about slogans personally targeting Modi and Shah.
The Election Commission has ordered removal of Thakur and BJP MP Parvesh Verma as star campaigners of the party over their objectionable remarks.
"Let's not confine it to controversies. You should also consider underlying ideologies. Issues of nationalism and national interest are being spoken about by one side (BJP) while the other side is taking about breaking up the country," Rupani said.
He added that Kejriwal should go and meet Shaheen Bagh protestors as "they are your people" and stated that there is no point in BJP leaders going to meet them as their agitation is against the party.
Asked about anti-CAA protests in Gujarat, which also saw participation from some students and faculty members of IIM Ahmedabad, the chief minister said only a handful of people from the institution and elsewhere in the state attended them while people anywhere between 10,000 and 25,000 participated in rallies in support of the law in many towns there.
In Delhi, he said, the BJP is also fighting on development plank as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has "failed" in fulfilling most of his promises, rejecting the allegation that the saffron party is trying to polarise voters in the national capital.
Asked about the AAP government's development claims, he said, "Yamuna could not be cleaned. People are getting contaminated drinking water. No new teacher has been appointed in government schools but Kejriwal claimed that he built 20,000 new classes. But where are teachers? He is totally lying about his developmental claims."
To a question about freebies of the Kejriwal government, he said governments should work to empower people to alleviate poverty and not encourage the mindset of freebies.