New Delhi: Two days after a farmer from Rajasthan hanged himself from a tree in full public gaze at an AAP rally in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today apologised for not calling off the event and admitted that his making a speech was a "mistake".
Under fire over his handling of the issue that has snowballed into a major controversy, the AAP supremo also slammed the media and the opposition parties, saying that the debate had veered away from the "real issue" of the farmers' plight.
"I was to deliver an hour long speech but I wrapped it up in 10-15 mins. I think that was my mistake. Probably I should not have spoken. If that has hurt anynone's sentiments I would like to apologise.
Combo picture of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia looking at a farmer who attempted suicide during Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)'s rally against the Union government's Land Acquisition Bill at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday. Pic/ PTI
"I am guilty. Blame me. I feel the rally should have been called off. But please focus on the real issue of the farmers and desist from politicking. Whoever is guilty hang him but the focus of the debate should be on why the farmers are committing suicide," Kejriwal told a news channel.
Seeking to play down his government's face-off with the Delhi Police over the probe of the incident, Kejriwal said he was even ready to file his statement to the police if needed. "District Magistrate has the jurisdiction to investigate under the CrPC and the police does criminal investigation based on FIR...if police calls me I will go to file my statement," he said.
Yesterday, opposition members created ruckus in the Lok Sabha over the incident, leading to adjournment of proceedings even as the Centre said it was ready to discuss the matter.
Making his point against AAP, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said the crowd gathered for the rally "clapped" and "raised slogans" as the farmer Gajendra Singh climbed up the tree and ended his life, prompting the party to accuse Singh of "lying".
Many, including Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, sought a judicial probe to fix accountability, saying police are in a dock over the matter and they cannot probe themselves.
A judicial probe, Kharge said, was necessary as Kejriwal and the Delhi police, which reports to the MHA, had offered conflicting versions of the event.