Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal has said that his fight against Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi was not a "battle of prestige" but one to save the country from corrupt forces.
Kejriwal said the party's electoral win in Varanasi and Amethi would be "enough to shake up the country" even if the rookie party does not win 100 seats in the Lok Sabha poll.
"Modi brought me to Varanasi. And this is not a battle of prestige, but one to save the country from corrupt forces like the BJP and the Congress," Kejriwal said after his hectic and back-breaking campaigning in the temple town.
In Amethi, the AAP has fielded Kumar Vishwas against Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
Asked whether it was purely out of electoral reasons that he decided to contest in Varanasi, Kejriwal said: "It is not so... Wherever the Aam Aadmi Party enters once, it maintains an everlasting tie with that place and its people."
"We have come to Varanasi and we will never leave it," the former chief minister of Delhi added.
Varanasi will go to the polls on May 12. The contest between the Gujarat chief minister and Kejriwal is the most keenly-watched battle, in which the former seems to have the upper hand.
Both leaders filed their nomination papers accompanied by large numbers of supporters and their cavalcades.
Modi's roadshow - a day after Kejriwal's - was joined by thousands, sending out a strong signal of his popularity.
Congress' Ajay Rai is another contender.
Asked about the number of seats AAP was hoping to muster in the house of 543, Kejriwal said: "We will get what people will give. I am not worried about the results.
"Imagine you seeing news on TV and coming to know that both Modi and Rahul Gandhi got defeated.
"The Congress will be destroyed and the BJP will cease to exist," he added.
Asked why the over a-year-old party did not wait for the 2019 general election, Kejriwal said: "People said we should have contested 30 seats (in Lok Sabha) and gradually taken the graph higher, but that is conventional politics.
"Had we waited till 2019, the country would not have been there," he said.
Perhaps, the biggest challenge for Kejriwal is to justify his resignation as Delhi's chief minister to the voters of Varanasi.
“You have only one point against me that I resigned from the post of Delhi chief minister. But I did no corruption whereas Modi is the agent of Ambani.
"All I have to do is to convince people, and they are getting convinced," Kejriwal said.
"The comparison is between the one who resigned, and the one who is looting the country," he said.
After running the Delhi government for 49 days, Kejriwal and his cabinet quit over the defeat of the anti-graft Jan Lokpal bill by the BJP and the Congress in the assembly.
Despite all the challenges in the Hindu holy city, Kejriwal is confident of winning against Modi.
"My political assessment is that the BJP will not get more than 160 seats and Modi will not become the prime minister. BJP's president Rajnath is waiting for the right opportunity."
Maqsood ul Hasan Qazmi resigned yesterday as a member of the Aam Aadmi Party’s national council, expressing his displeasure over the alleged nexus between the party and certain corporate groups. Qazmi, also the president of Imam Council of India, made a number of allegations about the AAP and said party founder-leader Arvind Kejriwal mentioned only two business houses in his public speeches - referring to the party’s scathing attacks against Reliance Industries and the Adani Group.
"You always attack Ambani but praise Ratan Tata. Why?" asked Qazmi. "Is it because you (Kejriwal) worked with Tata from 1989 to 1992? I know that a member of an influential business family is the source of all the documents and information used by AAP leader Prashant Bhushan.
Mr Bhushan is using Arvind Kejriwal on behalf of a certain group to settle scores in the business rivalry.”Last updated:
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