The Aam Aadmi Party’s Punjab chief ministerial candidate will hail from the state and will be somebody who can be called the pride of the state, party leader Raghav Chadha said.
With assembly polls in Punjab set for early next year, the AAP is going all out to win the battle and has already promised free 300 units of power to the people of the state if it forms the next government.
Chadha, the AAP’s Punjab co-in charge, told PTI in an interview that people of the state want to give the Arvind Kejriwal led party a chance in the next polls as the Akali Dal has become “irrelevant”, while the Congress has been the most “nikami sarkar” (useless government) ever in the history of electoral politics of Punjab.
He said the chief ministerial candidate of the party for Punjab will be decided by the political affairs committee in due course of time.
On chances of AAP MP and Party’s Punjab unit president Bhagwant Mann being chosen, he said at this point and time, “I can only say three characteristics of the CM candidate of AAP. One is that he will hail from the state of Punjab, he will be from the 2.8 crore population of Punjab and thirdly he will be somebody who can be called the “aan baan shaan” (pride) of Punjab.
AAP Punjab state president Bhagwant Mann. (File)
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party’s national convener Arvind Kejriwal in June had said that the party’s chief ministerial face for the 2022 Punjab assembly polls would be from the Sikh community.
Over reports that Mann’s supporters want that he should be named as the CM candidate, Chadha said, “All are supporters of Kejriwal and of the Kejriwal model of governance. I don’t wish to comment on individuals but the vote is for Jhaadu (party’s sign) and for Kejriwal”.
Several AAP volunteers in Sangrur and Barnala districts are holding meetings to press the party leadership to choose Mann as the chief ministerial face, sources in the party said.
Talking about the political situation of Punjab, Chadha claimed that the Akali Dal is slowly becoming “irrelevant” because people have “utmost hatred” for the party of Badals and want it to be defeated.
As far as the Congress is concerned, it is on a “suicide mission and on self destruction mode” and they do not need an opposition. They are their own opposition and people are just waiting for the AAP and for elections to happen, he said.
On Amarinder Singh’s resignation from the chief minister’s post on Saturday, Chadha has said that governance in Punjab has been the biggest casualty in the Congress party’s “Game of Thrones”.
“The people of Punjab are yearning for a change. They feel they have tried everyone and now only AAP is their hope and they wish to try AAP, they wish to vote for AAP and are banking heavily on the Kejriwal model of governance in Delhi that was showcased in the last six years,” he said.
Chadha said when he asks people of the state who they will vote for in the next polls, they reply that this time they want to give a chance to AAP.
On the impact of the ongoing farmer’s protest on the polls, Chadha alleged that all three parties – BJP, Congress and Akali Dal – have “betrayed” the Indian farmers and “backstabbed” them.
Former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal. (File)
“I don’t look at the farmers protest through the prism of politics and it would be unfair for anyone to do that but I can most certainly say that the BJP is not even a player in Punjab because of enacting these three laws. Akali Dal is hated because they were the people who brought this law as Harsimrat Kaur Badal being the minister in the Union Cabinet proposed this legislation and Captain (Amarinder Singh) is also hated because he was part of the drafting committee of these laws,” he said.
“The AAP and its leader Arvind Kejriwal have stood with the farmers throughout and have been rock solid behind them and will work for the welfare of the farming community and their uplift,” he said.
Asked if the AAP will be benefited by the vote bank of Akali Dal, he claimed that everyone will be voting for the AAP not just those who are traditionally Akali Dal or Congress voters.
“This time all these divisions and classifications are not going to work. Just like when elections happen in, Delhi people from all caste, creed and religion vote for Arvind Kejriwal. Similarly, they will vote for Kejriwal in Punjab,” he said.
Talking about the party’s vision for Punjab, Chadha said reforms that have been carried out in the national capital will also be carried out in Punjab.
“With utmost sincerity and dedication we will work work towards making Punjab “khush haal” (happy) and achieving our dream of “rangla Punjab” (vibrant and colourful) by solving the problem of unemployment, debt trap of the state, uplift farmers and giving them their due, working for the landless labourers, ease of doing business for the business community and the traders, reforming completely the electricity and the water sector,” he said.
The party will also strive to bring to Punjab world class education in primary and secondary schools as well as an affordable and accessible healthcare system.
In 2017, the AAP had emerged as the main opposition party in the state after winning 20 out of the 117 assembly seats. The Congress had won 77 while an alliance of Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP won 18 seats.
Assembly polls in Punjab are scheduled for 2022.