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Is Arvind Kejriwal beginning to panic about Shaheen Bagh?

One can only guess that with every passing day, as the frustration mounts, the anti-CAA crowd will expose themselves further. More such videos will be coming for sure and they will all go viral. And rest assured all of this will go against AAP in Delhi.

A recent tweet by Arvind Kejriwal is quite telling. Arvind Kejriwal has finally mentioned Shaheen Bagh in a tweet


However, Arvind Kejriwal has done so not to express support or any particular sympathy for those protesters. Rather he points out that the prolonged dharna has blocked the public road, causing inconvenience to ordinary people. He accuses the BJP of letting the protest drag for political reasons. He then demands that BJP leaders should speak to the protesters and get them to open the road.

There is a lot to decode in this tweet, the first being the cavalier attitude of Kejriwal towards the Shaheen Bagh protesters and their demands. He doesn’t even want to discuss them. His tweet is focused purely on getting the public road to reopen.

In other words, his ground feedback suggests common people don’t care about what Shaheen Bagh has to say. That common people are prickly about an arterial road being closed because of the ruckus.

Read: Days before Delhi polls, AAP extends its support to anti-CAA Shaheen Bagh ‘protestors’

The second point is that he says BJP is doing dirty politics over Shaheen Bagh. Translation: he knows that the prolonged protest is actually going in BJP’s favour. That common people are not sympathetic to the Shaheen Bagh drama, that they likely see it as anti-national and they are putting the blame at the door of ‘secular’ parties and their surrogates.

Hence the desperation of Kejriwal to turn this around and blame BJP somehow.

Add this to the fact that the AAP campaign has so far maintained near-total silence over Shaheen Bagh. Except for one costly indiscretion by Manish Sisodia. When Kejriwal spoke on it three days ago, he again focused on the inconvenience caused to ordinary people and not the protests themselves.

Economic Times article

On the other hand, the BJP has been extremely vocal in talking about Shaheen Bagh. Not just in terms of inconvenience to people, but directly taking on the protesters and their demands.

The Hindu article

There’s only one reasonable conclusion here. Both sides know that Shaheen Bagh has become a serious issue. The BJP knows it is helping them. The AAP wants people to speak as little about Shaheen Bagh as possible because they know just as well that it is helping their adversary.

In other words, the ground feedback in both camps is the same.

This is not surprising. As the Shaheen Bagh (and assorted, sporadic anti-CAA protests) have continued, the worst of anti-national rhetoric has come to the surface. The hate was always thinly veiled, to begin with. But as the government has not relented, the protesters in their frustration have spewed more and more of their inner venom.

Read: After Congress, AAP leaders booked for anti-CAA violence, ‘protestors’ question absence of Rahul, Priyanka and Kejriwal at Shaheen Bagh, Jamia

One wanted to cut off the North East from India. Said openly that non-believers should live their lives as per terms set by Muslims. Just as disturbing as his words were the calm, almost scholarly manner in which he spoke. This was not a rabble-rouser on a street corner making an untoward remark in the heat of the moment. This was a well educated Islamist expressing his well thought out opinion on how he sees the future of India. Torn into pieces and subjugated to Islamism. Chilling.

The other day there was another viral video. This time of an alleged journalist, known to be suave and well-spoken. Explaining calmly that the show of inclusiveness in the protest is a strategic choice and not an ideological one. Again, chilling.

At least we got to hear this aloud. We as a nation needed to see this. Because too many of us are still denying the reality and the intensity of the hate.

Read: As AAP grandstands and dares BJP to arrest Sharjeel Imam, video surfaces where AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan is seen with Imam

One can only guess that with every passing day, as the frustration mounts, the anti-CAA crowd will expose themselves further. More such videos will be coming for sure and they will all go viral. And rest assured all of this will go against AAP in Delhi.

Eminent liberals had already anticipated this a couple of weeks ago. Remember when they begged with Shaheen Bagh to wrap up their protests in view of coming elections in Delhi? As the election is getting closer, the nervousness in the secular camp appears to be mounting. And Kejriwal is finally panicking.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

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