Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday said the accused in the Kanhaiya Lal killing case in Udaipur were ”linked” to the BJP and should have been ”hanged by now” but the investigation by the NIA was not progressing as it should.
In an interview with PTI ahead of the November 25 state assembly polls, the senior Congress leader also spoke about the party’s prospects in the state, the ”red diary” issue and poll guarantees.
Gehlot termed the red diary issue raked up by the BJP in the poll campaign as ”nonsense”, and said if there was any substance in their allegations, the diary should be handed over to the Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax department or CBI.
A sacked minister had alleged that the red diary contains details of alleged financial irregularities committed by the Gehlot government.
On Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly attacking him in his election rallies and calling him a ”magician”, Gehlot said, “The magic will work. He says (Congress) will be ‘choo mantar’ (disappear) but (we) will tell who will be ‘choo mantar’.” Gehlot used to accompany his magician father to magic shows in his childhood.
He retaliated against the BJP for attempting to turn the Kanhaiya Lal murder case into a political issue by alleging that the accused had ties to the party and that the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is conducting the investigation, had to wait because of the election.
“The accused should have been hanged by now,” he said.
“I think (investigation) was delayed because elections were coming, and they (BJP) will keep talking about it. That is why NIA is not progressing the way it should have, this is my doubt,” he said.
The chief minister said the accused were held by police in a different case earlier but alleged that the BJP got them released. He also said that the accused were arrested by the Rajasthan Police in two hours but the NIA took over the case.
After the incident, Gehlot said he had expected that BJP and Congress leaders will work together so that communal riots don’t take place.
Gehlot said while he cancelled all his programmes and focused on the case, BJP leaders chose to attend their convention in Hyderabad.
He said the incident took place in the assembly constituency of Gulab Chand Kataria, who is now Assam governor, but the BJP leaders went to Hyderabad instead of cancelling the programme.
“Now the family of Kanhaiya Lal is saying that the NIA is not telling them what action is being taken,” he claimed.
Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor, was murdered in his shop in Udaipur last year by cleaver wielding men for supporting a controversial social media post of BJP leader Nupur Sharma. The post was seen as an insult to Islam. Speaking about the poll scenario and the expectations on the ground, the chief minister said, “Demand (for my visit) is coming from about 150 seats out of 200. I am saying I will not be able to come to all places, (people) should consider as if I am contesting elections on all seats”.
He said there might be some local issues or complaints but in the interest of the state, people should ignore them and bring the Congress to power again. “There may be minor shortcomings at the local level; there may be a complaint with the local MLA or candidate because local issues persist in politics. Ignore them all; repeat the government in the interest of the state. Whatever work we have done, we will work more strongly in the coming time, we will strengthen these schemes and bring new schemes,” he appealed. The chief minister wondered why the BJP was contesting polls on Modi’s face, noting it was an assembly poll and not Lok Sabha elections.
“This election is not being held for Parliament, it is being held for assembly. Why did they suffer such a fate that they had to contest the elections on the PM’s face. Why did this situation arise? Why is the BJP facing the urge to fight on Modi’s face? he asked. The chief minister also lashed out at the prime minister for holding Rajasthan responsible for inflation and high fuel prices.
Accusing the prime minister of misleading people, Gehlot said he should compare the fuel prices in Rajasthan with that of BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh instead of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana because Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have similar conditions and approach. Gehlot said the Centre reduced basic excise duty which is shared with the state and imposed additional excise duty, special excise duty and cess which has no provision of state share and, therefore, the revenue is going to the Centre.
The Congress, he noted, has promised seven guarantees while Modi is luring people on his guarantee.
Gehot said Modi’s guarantee is that ”no work” will be done here.
“He is in Rajasthan till November 23 only. He will not come for five years. The work has to be done by us, the leaders of Rajasthan. So what guarantee is he giving?” he said.
“The guarantee is ours, debate on it. They should debate whether our scheme is effective on the ground or not. Tell us what is missing in the laws that have been passed. Public wants a debate on it in Rajasthan,” he said.
Polling in 199 out of 200 assembly seats in Rajasthan will be held on November 25 and results will be declared on December 3. Polling in Sriganganagar’s Karanpur seat has been adjourned due to the demise of Congress candidate Gurmeet Singh Koonar.