Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday claimed that the protests at Jamia Millia Islamia University, Seelampur and Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi against the Citizenship Amendment Act were not a coincidence but an “experiment”, ANI reported. He alleged that there was politics behind the demonstrations. Modi made the remarks at a rally in Karkardooma area of the national Capital.

“Be it Seelampur, Jamia or Shaheen Bagh, protests have been held over the past several days against the Citizenship Amendment Bill,” Modi said. “Is this just a coincidence? No. This is an experiment.There is a political design behind this which has plans to destroy harmony in country.”

The prime minister said that the Supreme Court has held that protests should not bother the common man. “The Supreme Court, the High Courts have always expressed their displeasure over violence and arson during demonstrations,” he said.

Modi called the protests a “conspiracy”, where the real agenda is being obscured by using the tricolour and the Constitution as symbols. “If they [protests] had been against one law, it would have ended after assurances of the government,” Modi said. “But Aam Aadmi Party and Congress are provoking people. Constitution and tricolour are being kept in front and attention is being diverted from the real conspiracy.”

Modi also claimed that India will not be driven by “politics of hate” but the policy of development, PTI reported. The prime minister said that the BJP believed in “positivity” and always upholds the interest of the country.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has attempted to portray the upcoming Delhi elections as a referendum on the ongoing protests, particularly at Shaheen Bagh, where women have been sitting on protest since December 15, over several matters, particularly the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Assembly elections for all 70 seats in Delhi will be held on February 8 and the results declared on February 11. In the 2015 polls, the Aam Aadmi Party had won 67 seats, the BJP just three seats and the Congress none.

On Monday, the prime minister said his government has been finding solutions to problems which were decades-old. He listed the BJP-led central government’s achievements, including the abolition of special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, the completion and inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan, and the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act, which grants refuge to people of six religious communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, excluding Muslims.

Modi also said that the Centre had fulfilled its promise of regularising unauthorised colonies in Delhi. In December, Parliament had approved a bill granting ownership rights to residents in 1,731 unauthorised colonies in Delhi.

The Union Cabinet had approved the proposal to regularise the colonies on October 23, three months after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also announced his government’s move to give ownership rights to people living in these colonies. Subsequently, Kejriwal took credit for the Centre’s decision to regularise the colonies.

However, the prime minister on Monday accused the Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government of not giving houses to the poor. He also said the Delhi government had failed to implement the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. “AAP will keep stalling welfare schemes till it is in power,” Modi added.

Hailing the Union Budget, which was presented on February 1 in Parliament, Modi claimed it would help the people of Delhi. “The benefit of this budget will be for the youth of Delhi, traders of Delhi, the middle class, poor and women,” he said.

Remarks by BJP leaders

Though the prime minister asserted that India will not be driven by “politics of hate”, senior leaders in the central government and the BJP have called the protestors at Shaheen Bagh terrorist sympathisers, and encouraged the shooting of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors.

Hours after a gunman fired shots at protestors outside the Jamia Millia Islamia University on January 30, Union Home Minister Amit Shah asked Delhi voters at an election rally if they were “with Modi or Shaheen Bagh?” Earlier, Union minister Anurag Thakur had led a crowd of BJP supporters in chanting the slogan “shoot the traitors”. Lok Sabha BJP MP Parvesh Verma claimed protestors at Shaheen Bagh would “rape and kill your sisters and daughters”. These instances of hate speech prompted the Election Commission to ban Thakur and Verma from campaigning for a few days. On Saturday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath appeared to suggest the use of bullets as a means to get dissenters on board.