Arvind Kejriwal was virtually declared the Chief Ministerial candidate in Punjab by his Aam Aadmi Party, injecting a new dimension to what is considered a three-way race in the Assembly polls.
“You vote thinking that you are voting to make Arvind Kejriwal as the chief minister (of Punjab). Your vote is for Kejriwal,” Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said while addressing a public gathering at village Balongi.
AAP, which first captured power in Delhi in 2013 on the back of its civil society campaign against corruption, has been steadily making inroad in Punjab. It had won four Lok Sabha seats in 2014 but has since been marred by infighting. Sisodia assured the people that Kejriwal would honour all the promises made by the party with the people of Punjab after coming to power.
“People were asking me who will be the Punjab Chief Minister. I want to say one thing here that you should believe that Arvind Kejriwal is going to be Punjab’s CM,” he said. However, in the same breath, Sisodia said, “Whosoever will be the CM, it shall be the responsibility of Kejriwal to get all the promises honoured…. I give you guarantee in this regard.”
Urging people to vote for party’s candidate from Mohali Narinder Singh Shergill, Sisodia asked people to bring AAP to the power in order to put the state on the right track. Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal has maintained that AAP would not announce chief ministerial candidate in Punjab. The AAP’s national convenor had reportedly said that the CM would be elected by the legislators after the polls.
The Shiromani Akali Dal today alleged that the Aam Aadmi Party was trying to foist “outsider” Arvind Kejriwal on Punjab after scuttling the chances of its own leaders from the state who could have posed a challenge to him.
SAD president and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal alleged that if a ‘Haryanvi’ comes to power in the state, the interests of Punjab will be sold off and asserted that voters will not be befooled by AAP.
He also warned that the “anti-Centre” stance of Kejriwal will put the state on a collision course with the Union Government and hurt its progress.
“The cat is out of the bag. Kejriwal has been salivating to become chief minister of Punjab since two years now and finally the party has made the announcement after clearing all the road blocks in his way,” Badal said in a statement.
Asking people of Punjab to oppose the move to impose an “outsider” on them, the Deputy CM said, “We are Punjabis foremost and Akalis, Congressmen or BJP supporters later. If an outsider becomes CM of our state, our very existence is at stake”.
His reaction came after Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, while addressing a rally in Mohali, asked people to vote for AAP in Pujab Assembly polls to see Arvind Kejriwal as the Chief Minister of the state.
Sukhbir said the recent developments in the party should be seen in this light.
“AAP’s first state convenor and senior most leader Suchha Singh Chottepur was thrown out of the party as he was a well know Sikh face and could have posed a challenge to Kejriwal.
“After this the party scuttled the chances of Bhagwant Mann and Himmat Singh Shergill by making them contest against me and Bikram Singh Majithia respectively.
“Now with all the road blocks removed, Sisodia has come to Punjab to make the announcement in a carefully orchestrated move to the accompaniment of drums and calibrated sloganeering,” alleged Badal.
The SAD leader said AAP might have succeeded in its game plan of making Kejriwal the CM candidate of the party, but it would not be able to “befool” Punjabis.
“The party including Kejriwal kept saying that a Punjabi will be chosen as its chief ministerial face but has now chosen a Haryanvi who has already bartered away the interests of Punjab on the SYL to Haryana.
“If Kejriwal comes to power all the interests of the state including those of Chandigarh as well as Punjabi speaking areas also stand to be sold to Haryana,” he alleged.
Hitting out at Kejriwal, Sukhbir said Kejrwal had a reputation of being a “professional agitationist”.
“Such a person would put Punjab on a collision course with the Centre,” he alleged adding this would impact the procurement of food grain from Punjab and affect the future of farming community.
“Punjab will also suffer if the Centre does not give it adequate grants due to the anti-Centre stance taken by Kejriwal,” he alleged.
Modi said India’s strength lies in the three Ds — Democracy, Demography and Demand.
“Our biggest strength is the depth of our Democracy. Some people say that democracy cannot deliver effective and fast track governance. But we have seen in the last two-and-a-half years that it is possible to deliver quick results in a democratic set up as well,” he said.
Also, culture of healthy competition among states has been evolved and they are being rated on parameters of Good Governance.
With the second largest English population, the youth of India are not merely looking for jobs but are beginning to take risks and become entrepreneurs.
On the demand front, rising middle class offers a huge domestic market, he said.
With sea that connects it to the world’s biggest markets of Africa, the Middle East and Europe, three crop seasons giving abundance of food, vegetables and fruits, and an unparalleled flora and fauna.
“We are taking a leap towards next generation infrastructure: in both core and social sectors; in both rural and urban areas.
“This includes freight corridors, industrial corridors, high speed and metro rail projects, logistics parks, smart cities, coastal zones, regional airports, water, sanitation and energy initiatives. Our per capita electricity consumption must rise. Even as we do so, we are committed to promoting renewable energy,” he said.
The government, he said, is also keen to promote tourism in a big way, for which tourism infrastructure is needed.
“The targets for construction of roads and laying of railways have been increased manifold. India is going to emerge as one of the world’s largest construction markets as it adds millions of homes. All this offers unprecedented opportunities for the investor community,” he said.
India, he said, alone offers the opportunities that could rival those of an entire continent. “It offers today, the possibilities of a full century. And we want to do all this in a cleaner, greener and sustainable way.”
Asking global investors to invest in India, he said: “I assure you that I will be available to hold your hands whenever required.”