Somnath: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday accused the Anandiben Patel-led BJP government in Gujarat of creating hurdles in his interaction with the people of Gujarat as he landed here to offer prayers at the historic Somnath Temple.
“I have come here with my family only for darshan and will meet whoever comes to see me. I was to have an interaction with traders of Gujarat in Surat tomorrow (on Sunday) but the Anandiben (Patel) government ensured this could not happen,” he claimed.
“She got the organisers of the Surat event to cancel it and also got the hall booking cancelled. Can’t one meet with people of another state in a democracy? Anyways, some other time,” the Aam Aadmi Party chief told reporters ahead of his visit to the Shiva temple.
“I fail to realise why Anandiben is so afraid of me? They advertise that come and spend two days in Gujarat. I was doing just that, trying to spend two days in Gujarat,” he said, referring to the state government’s tourism promotion campaign with tagline in Hindi, “Kuchh din tou gujaro Gujarat mein.”
Besides Kejriwal and his family, AAP leader Kumar Vishwas also came with his family to offer darshan at the temple on the Arabian Sea coast. They landed at the Rajkot airport and drove down to Somnath, with Gujarat AAP convenor Kanu Kalsaria in tow.
Kejriwal also visited other shrines and temples like Bhalka Teerth, where Lord Krishna is believed to have left his mortal body, in and around Somnath. “There can’t be a better feeling than having darshan and puja with family and friends. I sought from the lord the power to fight the evil forces,” he said.
Addressing his supporters during the day, Kejriwal invoked the name of Gujarat Patel reservation leader Hardik Patel to hit out at the BJP. “They have charged Hardik with sedition but they have not done so in the case of Eknath Khadse who speaks to Dawood as he is from their party,” he said.
Kejriwal had a brief interaction with farmers of the coastal belt in Gir-Somnath district and later in Keshod in Junagadh and Jetalsar in Bhavnagar district on his way back to Rajkot where he will have a night halt and would fly back to Delhi Sunday morning.
Meanwhile, some AAP supporters, who had gathered to welcome the Delhi chief minister tried to rush in to the temple, leading to minor scuffle with security officials there. Journalists covering Kejriwal’s visit also had a run in with security officials of the Somnath Temple Trust, which manages the place, when they were prevented from entering the temple complex.
Media is normally allowed inside the temple whenever any politician visits there, but the Trust officials did not this time citing security reasons and convenience of other devotees. Former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel is the chairman of the eight-member Trustee board, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi, national BJP president Amit Shah and BJP patriarch L.K. Advani are among the other trustees.
Earlier, some AAP supporters who received Kejriwal at the Rajkot airport and were following him till Somnath, had arguments with some of the employees of a toll point on the Rajkot-Veraval highway. The activists were reportedly not willing to pay the toll tax claiming that ruling BJP and the opposition Congress were not charged the toll but it was being collected from them only.
Kejriwal had a very brief interaction with his people in Gujarat, but his visit is being considered a political recce exercise for the state assembly elections slated next year.
State BJP president Vijay Rupani, meanwhile, called Kejriwal’s visit a drama. “He has been exposed in Delhi and so he is loitering around to look for importance. We don’t give any note of his visit.”