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Capricious Kapil

 With his obsession with Pakistan and intemperate remarks, Kapil Mishra is feeling at home in the BJP, the party he joined before leaving AAP

POLITICS IS replete with defectors, even though so many safeguards have been put in place to prevent politicians from crossing the floor in unscrupulous pursuit of power. Before every election, many candidates change political parties as per their own values and circumstances—especially due to denial of ticket, disqualification, denial of posts, among many other reasons. It is now an integral part of realpolitik.

In the recently declared list of candidates by AAP, six defectors were included from Congress. In fact, defectors are finding their place in every party. As recently as 29 January, AAP’s sitting MLA Manoj Kumar joined BJP, as AAP did not give him ticket to contest this time.

The most important name among the defectors in this Assembly election is that of Kapil Mishra, 39, resident of Yamuna Vihar, who won the Karawal Nagar constituency for AAP last time around. He is infamous for highly controversial speeches and remarks. He joined BJP in August 2019 after giving rise to speculation due to his public appearances with senior BJP leaders. On this occasion he said, “Joining the BJP, I feel like a man who has finally reached the shore.”

Kapil Mishra has always been in limelight even before he joined BJP. In his famous speech in Delhi Assembly, while criticising BJP over its ‘Tukde tukde’ narrative for attacking prestigious universities like JNU, he said, “Tumhe desh ke bacchon mein gaddar dikhai deta hai aur katil Nawaz ki ankhon mein pyar dikhayi deta hai (You see students as traitors and love in the eyes of murderer Nawaz).”

He also attacked the BJP-led central government for inviting ISI to investigate in India after the attack on the Pathankot army base. “BJP invited ISI after Pathankot, because ISI agents are in BJP. ISI agents accompany your CM, ISI agents take care of your media campaign, ISI gives funding to you. It is a well-established fact,” he added.

He even tweeted accusing the PM of being an ISI agent in 2016. “Do we have an ISI agent as PM now?? It’s very serious the way PM is surrendering to anti-India forces.”

Now, after he joined BJP, he is singing a completely different tune. Expectedly, he has started criticising AAP. However, Pakistan remain the most important word of his personal lexicon and the xenophobic undertones have become more conspicuous. When anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) protests were spreading all over the country, he brought out a rally in support of CAA in which he was seen chanting incendiary slogans like “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maro sa** ko (Shoot the traitors).” And that created a huge buzz among civil societies and media.

Characteristically, when his name was announced by BJP for the Assembly election, he kicked off his campaign with his bizarre statements.  He recently tweeted, “On eighth February, there will be India versus Pakistan match on Delhi’s streets.” After this tweet created a huge storm, the Election Commission took cognisance and banned him from campaigning for two days. An FIR was lodged against him under Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act dealing with creating enmity among classes. Twitter had also taken down one of his controversial tweets on Friday following directions of the EC. Even after all that happened, he did not take his words back and remarked that several ‘mini-Pakistans’ had been created in Delhi and that Shaheen Bagh was being replicated all over the capital.

After the ban ended on January 27, he took out a rally accompanied by Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, who came to support his candidature at Model Town. Tiwari said in the rally, “Kapil Mishra has quit the party of liars and corrupt people for the happiness his people.” Among his various supporters who were chanting “Bharat Mata ki jai” the enthusiasm and zeal was same as often seen in BJP workers. They told the Patriot that they are supporting BJP because Kejriwal is a liar and stands with traitors.

In an interview with India Today, Mishra accused Kejriwal of appeasing Muslims for votes. “Kejriwal is only interested in 20% Muslim votes and does not care about the rest. Before vacating Shaheen Bagh, the CM house will be vacated.”

Looking at the Model Town constituency, a tough contest seems to be in the making for all three parties. The incumbent MLA from AAP Akhilesh Pati Tripathi has been repeated by AAP to contest elections, while Congress has fielded Akanksha Ola, who is the daughter of three-time Congress MLA from Model Town, Kanwar Karan Singh. Model Town was considered as a stronghold of Congress before 2013 and the party is fielding Akanksha Ola banking on anti-incumbency and loyal support base—who believe that Congress had developed the Model Town area.

Talking to the Patriot, Tripathi stated, “We worked tirelessly with honesty that is why you will see, in each locality of Model Town, people want their son (Akhilesh) to get elected again”. Commenting upon Kapil Mishra, he said, “The man who has no principles and creates social enmity for his own personal benefit is contesting this election. He has fled from his constituency, if he has courage then why is he not contesting from Karawal Nagar. People of that area are looking for him. He has never visited that area for three years. Kapil Mishra says something and does something else. He used to say I would prefer death over joining a party like BJP and referred it Bharat Jalao party and Bharatiya Jumla Party. How all of the sudden, it has changed?”

He adds, “This election is about basic necessity of people which is electricity, water, air and pension for old. These we have delivered.”

Residents of Model Town showed a mixed response and it is hard to reckon who will win the election. Nevertheless, the statements of Kapil Mishra have not made a lot of people of Model Town unhappy. A few, even among those who support AAP, find nothing objectionable in his statements. Dhirendra, resident of Ghantaghar area and supporter of AAP candidate in Model Town said, “What Kapil Mishra has said, is true. But he is not from our area, while Akhilesh is a popular face in here. He has worked a lot in our area and is a very approachable person.”

People will decide Kapil Mishra’s fate on February 8 but it is clear that his xenophobic and incendiary statements will continue as it suits his new party. The question, however, is troubling those who believe in democratic values that this kind of politics marked by hate speeches, where politicians are not afraid of using words and sentences objectionable to democratic and constitutional ethos of the country, are being normalised.