New Delhi: Taking a dig at ruling BJP over the contentious issue of excise duty on non-silver jewellery, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "leave" Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's side if he did not want to lose the support of traders.
Gold traders, jewellers and artisans have been observing strike since March 2, demanding roll-back of the budgetary proposal that has impacted the trade.
Addressing a gathering of jewellers at Jantar Mantar here, Kejriwal warned BJP of "erosion" in its support base among traders and wondered if Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Modi had any differences at all as the ruling BJP was "implementing" the policies of the UPA dispensation.
"The notion was that BJP is a party of traders. Then what has happened now I want to tell the PM that Jaitley ji will not have to gather votes or contest elections. You need votes so please be a little careful. If jewellers are cheated, then traders will leave BJP's side," Kejriwal said.
The Aam Aadmi Party convener's address, peppered with sharp jibes at the PM and his pet projects such as 'Make in India', was lapped up by a sizeable crowd that repeatedly raised slogans against Modi and Jaitley.
Kejriwal claimed that BJP MPs and even Union Ministers are in "favour" of the jewellers' demands contrary to the PM's "adamance". "Even MPs are wondering as to what Jaitley has explained to the PM."
"BJP is on one side and PM on the other. But why? PM is under the total control of Jaitley. I am smaller in terms of age, experience than Modi ji but have a small suggestion for him. Please leave Jaitley ji's side, he will take you down," Kejriwal said.
He also read out a series of tweets made by Modi in his capacity as Gujarat Chief Minister where the latter had opposed a similar move by the erstwhile UPA government to impose one per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery.
"What has changed? People thought the PM is with them but you have cheated them. Congress used to impose excise duty and people brought you to power thinking you won't repeat the same. But now that you have repeated the act, what difference is there between you and Sonia Gandhi?" Kejriwal said.