Arun Jaitley, the suave and witty lawyer and top BJP leader, is asking for votes in the name of piety.
“This pavittar nagri (holy city) will weaken its credentials if apavittar (unholy) people or party get more votes here,” he told a public meeting in Amritsar today.
“Jede sare desh apavittar kam kardene, una nu is pavittar nagri te maaf nai kita ja sakda (those who do unholy things in the entire country can’t be forgiven in this holy city),” he said in Punjabi.
The city of the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest shrine, is witnessing one of the fiercest battles of this election with the Congress fielding former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh.
The ruling Akali Dal had invited Jaitley to contest from this seat because victory seemed certain. The buzz was he would have to come here only twice — to file the nomination and to receive his victory certificate. But the BJP stalwart has been stuck in Amritsar since Amarinder’s entry.
The Akalis have pulled out all stops to ensure his victory, even raking up the 1984 riots.
“The entire country is voting against the Congress. We are getting surprising inputs from Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Odisha where we didn’t have much support base. We are sweeping most of north, east and west…. The whole country is anti-Congress. In Amritsar, too, please keep the fight anti-Congress,” Jaitley said.
After his address, several students who attended the rally said they had come because they had been promised “booze, food, cash and even capsules (synthetic drugs)”.
Asked who made these promises, at least four said they were close aides of the local BJP legislator. A law student said: “I came here not for booze or capsules which were offered but I will get good food.”
Jaitley urged the crowd to turn up in strength for Narendra Modi’s rally on Friday, saying a “good show” would make his win “pakki (certain)”. The BJP leader, who had earlier played down Akali claims that he would be deputy Prime Minister or finance minister, also appeared to be hinting at the clout he could wield.
“I and Modiji will make Amritsar the most beautiful city of India. I will bring the funds. My party sent me here after taking the decision that I will be in a position to take those decisions,” he said.
Amritsar votes on April 30