- Hate speeches could have hurt BJP's chances in the election: Amit Shah
- The BJP, Amit Shah said, had distanced itself from such remarks
- BJP carried massive campaign involving 270 MPs, 70 ministers for Delhi
Union Minster Amit Shah on Thursday admitted that hate speeches by a section of BJP leaders should not have been made ahead of Delhi assembly polls. Such speeches could have hurt the party's chances in the election, he said while speaking at the Times Now Summit 2020.
"No one has said bahu betiyon ka balatkar karenge (wives and daughters will be raped). But the rest -- goli maaro, Indo-Pak match -- those also should not have made. The party distanced itself immediately," Amit Shah said, speaking for the first time since the Delhi election results were announced on Tuesday.
"All kinds of workers there who may say something but the public knows how the party is. But this is not the outlook of the party. May be we have also suffered because of this. We don't know exactly as voters could not write why they didn't vote. But maybe this could have been a reason," he said.
Many on social media pointed out that the BJP has not taken action against any of the leaders who crossed the line. A few of them, including Anurag Thakur, had received penalties from the Election Commission.
Mr Shah also added that his "assessment" about the number of seats the party would have won has gone wrong. "I firmly believed our party would have won with majority. I don't mind accepting it... Most times I have been correct, this time i wasn't," he added, as elsewhere, the party conducted a post mortem of its poor performance.
The BJP performance in the Delhi elections fell far short of expectation.
Despite a massive campaign involving most of its 270 parliamentarians, 70 union ministers and state leaders, the party just marginally increased its tally -- up from three seats to eight seats. Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party, which had steered clear of controversies, scooped up the rest -- a whopping 62 of the 70 assembly seats.
AAP and other the opposition parties interpreted the mandate as a rejection of the BJP strategy. In a tweet, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, "Leaders playing on faith through hate speech & divisive politics should take a cue, as only those who deliver on their promises are rewarded".
In the run up to the election, a number of BJP leaders, including Union Minister Anurag Thakur, had mentioned Shaheen Bagh - the epicentre of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act -- in hate speeches.
In a widely circulated video, AnuragThakur was seen egging on a crowd to chant slogans that roughly translates to "shoot down traitors who betray the country". Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP's star campaigner Yogi Adityanath had also approved the use of bullets to deal with traitors.
Party MP Parvesh Verma had said: "Lakhs of people gather there (Shaheen Bagh). They will enter your houses, rape your sisters and daughters, kill them. There's time today... Modi-ji and Amit Shah won't come to save you tomorrow".