A name Kejriwal hardly takes anymore — Modi

After calling the PM a “shameless dictator” and “psychopath”, the AAP chief has suddenly stopped attacking him

Updated - February 07, 2022 10:45 pm IST

Published - February 07, 2022 10:20 pm IST - New Delhi

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, whose party is fighting Assembly elections in four States, has not used the word “Modi” in all 38 speeches he has made in different States since the election dates were announced on January 8, except for two press conferences, an analysis by The Hindu has revealed.

Even in these press conferences, in oneMr. Kejriwal was replying to a question by a reporter on “Chhota Modi” and he did not say anything about Mr. Modi. In the second, it was a remark from the past and not an all-out attack on Mr. Modi.

This is in stark contrastto Mr. Kejriwal of earlier days who hadcalled Mr. Modi a “shameless dictator”, “coward”, “psychopath”, and “hazardous to Delhi”, and hardlymissed a chance to go after him.

Mr. Kejriwal not using “Modi” is not limited to this election campaign. For thepast 32 months, the AAP supremo has hardly used the name — not even when he went against the BJP or the decisions taken by the Central Government.

For instance, the AAP chief did not use “Modi” or “Prime Minister” in three speeches he made— in Jantar Mantar, Delhi Assembly, and Singhu Border —against farm laws, in 2020 and 2021. The farm laws were opposed both inside and outside the Parliament by his party.

In March 2021, the Central government introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha, which gave more powers to Central Government-appointed Lt. Governor in Delhi. On March 17, 2021, at the only protest organised by the party on the issue, Mr. Kejriwal did not use “Modi” or “Prime Minister”.

The AAP supremo also did not use these words in five speeches he delivered between April 18 and April 26, 2021, when Delhi was facing an acute oxygen shortage during the second wave of COVID-19. The State had blamed the Central government for not allocating enough oxygen to Delhi.

The Hindu analysed a total of 45 speeches made by the AAP supremo in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

Mr. Kejriwal’s tweets also follow this pattern. There is no mention of “Modi” in his tweets so far in 2022. The only mention in 2021 is when the AAP chief wished Mr. Modi on his birthday.“Birthday greetings to Hon’ble PM Shri @narendramodi ji. I pray for your long and healthy life,” reads the AAP leader’s tweet from September 17, 2021, which is also his last tweet mentioning “Modi”.

Even more interestingly, the AAP leader’s Twitter account reveals when he almost stopped using the name: May 23, 2019, the day when the results of the general election were announced and the BJP-led NDA came back to power again.

Old Kejriwal

In the run up to the election, Mr. Kejriwal was constantly attacking Mr. Modi. For instance, in 2019 Mr. Kejriwal used the name 27 times in his tweet. But 26 of them were before May 23, and one was on May 23 congratulating Mr. Modi. Post May 23, there is no mention of “Modi” in his tweets.

In 2020, he used Modi only once and he didn’t use the name in 2021 and is yet to do so in 2022.

Similarly, thetop AAP leader mentioned Modi in Hindi in his tweets 53 times in 2019 — all before May 23, 2019. He used it once in 2020, not even once in 2021. He used it once in 2022, but he was attacking Mr. Channi and not Mr. Modi.

When asked about the findings, political analystNeerja Chowdhury said, “I think it is a smart move by Kejriwal, though some people may differ. He realised that attacking Modi may be counter productive and Modi is still popular among the people. People may be unhappy with the BJP, but they still feel Modi is doing his best”.

She said he was not attacking Mr. Modi directly to avoid run-ins with the Central Government, which could tie his hands in running the government in Delhi.Delhi being a city-State, the Central Government has a larger role in governance compared to other States, and the Delhi Police and transfer and posting of bureaucrats are under the Centre’s ambit.

What is he saying then?

In the ongoing Assembly election campaign, from his first statement after the dates were announced, the AAP chief’s speeches have been a careful mix: party’s promises for the State with a dash of attacks on the Opposition. Mr. Kejriwal has been hard-selling promises and dreams of a “new State” under the AAP. His attacks aremostly against Congress, BJP, and ‘Badal family” and less on individual leaders.

In Punjab, personal attacks have been mostly limited to Chief MinisterCharanjit Singh Channi, whom Mr. Kejriwal has accused multiple times of corruption.

Twice or thrice he has attacked Sukhbir Badal and Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, but they were never the main focus of his speeches.

Sometimes, the AAP chief doesn’t even take the name of parties or leaders.

“A handful of leaders have occupied the whole of politics. For them it is “ paise se satta, satta se paise “. We have to change this,” Mr. Kejriwal said on January 19 at a press conference in Goa.

On January 9, in an address to party workers, the AAP chief said, “Back then, we fought against the British, today, we are against a corrupt system and big political partiesthathave a lot of money”.

Though theAAP chief used “Modi” only in two press conferences during the current Assembly campaign, he used “Prime Minister” in four speeches. But these were press conferences in which he was asked about a “breach” of security for the Prime Minister and Mr. Kejriwal never attacked Mr. Modi in these four instances.

Mr. Kejriwal has replaced “Modi government” with “Central government” in his speeches and tweets, and many times he avoids mentioning “Modi” and instead says “they”, “these people” or “them”.

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