New Delhi, Jan 28, 2020: The BJP’s Anurag Thakur, Union Minister of State for Finance, urges a crowd at an election rally in Delhi to say "goli maaro" - or shoot down traitors - in a widely-shared video that is being examined by the Election Commission.
The minister, who was campaigning for the BJP candidate in Rithala in North West Delhi for the February 8 Delhi election, can be seen prompting "desh ke gaddaron ko...", to which the crowd responds "...goli maaro sa***n ko"; the entire chant translates to "shoot down the traitors who betray the country". The video was taken at a rally on Monday.
Mr Thakur never actually says the controversial part of the slogan, but clearly eggs on the crowd and claps his hands as he gets the response he wants.
Several BJP leaders were present at the time. The BJP candidate from Rithala, Manish Chaudhary, was also on stage when the slogan was being chanted. Later, Home Minister Amit Shah arrived and addressed the same rally.
Asked who he believed were the "traitors" who need to be shot down, a defiant Mr Thakur told reporters: "First you should watch the entire video... Then you should see the mood of the people of Delhi."
Mr Thakur, as junior minister of finance, is part of the team involved in the Union Budget to be announced on Saturday amid a sharp slowdown and worrying growth.
"Disappointing to see a young leader like #AnuragThakur provoking to make such poisonous slogans during electioneering. This seems to be the modus operandi of the entire party," tweeted Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
"When he is done shooting the ’traitors’, hope the junior Finance Minister of the country will shoot the reasons for the economic slump through the budget," posted Priyanka Chaturvedi of Shiv Sena.
The Delhi Election Officer has asked for a report on the video and officials say "necessary action" will be taken.
The slogan has been largely used against those protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and has been heard at rallies held in support of the law by BJP leaders and supporters.
BJP leader Kapil Mishra, a candidate for the Delhi election, was also heard chanting the same slogan during a march in support of the controversial law.
Mr Mishra was banned from campaigning for 48 hours over the weekend for tweets Delhi Police said were "creating enmity among classes". He had compared the election to an "India vs Pakistan" clash and described protests like the one at Shaheen Bagh against the citizenship law as "mini-Pakistans" emerging across the capital.
The "Goli Maaro..." slogan was also heard during the attack on students and staff at Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) earlier this month, in which 34 were injured.
The Delhi election results will be declared on February 11, three days after people vote for the 70-member assembly.