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BJP attacks with film, gas ‘leak’

New Delhi, March 27: Arvind Kejriwal’s sniper shots at Narendra Modi have drawn return fire — a film-and-note pincer attack from the BJP.

The party today launched a two-pronged offensive, releasing a hurriedly assembled short film on the AAP leader’s “blunders” while Modi’s team “leaked” a note selectively that “answered” Kejriwal’s allegations on gas pricing in the Krishna-Godavari Basin.

The film was called “Agent AK 49” — a takeoff on Modi’s “AK 49” stab at Kejriwal at a public meeting near Jammu yesterday.

The note accused Kejriwal of “misleading” the country by “spreading canards” about Modi having written to the Centre on gas pricing and stressed that no such letter was ever sent. Kejriwal had repeatedly questioned Modi’s silence on the issue and accused him of patronising Reliance Industries with the Congress. Reliance had bagged the rights to explore the entire gas block.

Earlier this week in Varanasi, where Kejriwal has decided to take on Modi in the upcoming elections, the AAP leader had trashed the BJP mascot’s claims of development in Gujarat.

The “leaked” note said the Gujarat government had never intervened with the Centre on fixing the price of domestic natural gas. “As one of the largest consumers of natural gas, Gujarat has been repeatedly seeking cheaper domestic gas from the government of India,” it claimed, adding the state government’s “pro-active efforts” and the Supreme Court’s interventions had ensured the supply of cheaper domestic gas across the country.

Kejriwal’s allegation that the BJP and the Congress were working in cahoots to give Reliance a sweetheart deal in the KG Basin appeared to have unsettled the BJP as it could take away the high moral ground it has sought to appropriate on financial probity. It could also reinforce a view that the BJP was as “guilty” of fostering crony capitalism as the Congress.

“Such perceptions have to be fought on the ground,” a source said.

Kejriwal was accused of “indulging in reckless economic adventurism”, based on “little knowledge of a complex issue” which, the note warned, would eventually “harm” the entire sector and increase India’s dependence on high-priced gas imports.

The short film, screened for the media, was a montage of visuals and comments. It lampooned the AAP as “Arvind Apna Propaganda” party and showed Kejriwal’s colleague Prashant Bhushan saying if the people of Kashmir wanted plebiscite, “then we should allow it”. This was followed by a clip of Kejriwal declaring “I am an anarchist”.

BJP sources said the party’s dilemma was the length it should travel in taking on Kejriwal. “If we go on and on, we may end up showing Modi as defensive before a political neophyte. Kejriwal will seem as our biggest adversary, which isn’t really the case,” said an office-bearer. “On the other hand, if we pretend that he doesn’t exist and don’t refute his allegations, his campaign might gain traction.”