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Delhi-like opportunity in Punjab for AAP: Kejriwal

New Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today said he senses a Delhi-like opportunity for AAP in Punjab where assembly polls are due in 2017 while seeming to suggest that his party’s focus was not on the next Lok Sabha elections even as his tenure as party chief was extended.

In his address at the National Council, which met for the first time after expulsion of AAP founding members Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, he said his government has achieved more than what Sheila Dikshit’s dispensation did in 15 years and it has even outperformed the NDA regime at the Centre.

“We are not here for power politics. People ask if AAP is in race for 2019? We are not in any race. Delhi’s win was miraculous. We just have to keep working hard and honestly. Don’t run after elections. All indications are that you are going to get the same opportunity in Punjab,” he said.

The AAP had won four seats in Punjab in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and was routed in other states including in Delhi.

According to a party leader, Kejriwal said there has been a “rat race” for prime ministerial candidature in the next Lok Sabha polls and indicated AAP was not in that competition.

AAP’s National General Secretary Pankaj Gupta said an unanimous decision was taken to extend the term of the current National Council till November 23, 2018. The party will hold organisational elections by May 2016 to fill various posts at the state as well as at the national level.

“Till that time the National Convenor, National Executive and other functionaries will continue to function,” he said.

The National Council, attended by 177 members out of 247, adopted four separate resolutions including how the Centre was “undermining” the authority of non-NDA governments and the way people rejected BJP’s “manufactured intolerance”.

“Since the advent of the present NDA government, state governments are being undermined at the behest of the central government. Instead of cooperative federalism, the country is witnessing selective targeting of non-NDA state governments through the offices of governors and Lt Governors,” one of the resolutions said.

It said AAP was determined to build public opinion and politically oppose the NDA government’s “totalitarian attitude” towards non-NDA state governments.

In another resolution, the party said the people had replaced the “most corrupt government in Indian history” with an alternative bit it has proved in the last 18 months “just as terrible”.

“The real agenda of the BJP is intolerance and the purpose is dividing society for political gains. This manufactured intolerance has been rejected by the people of India, first in Delhi and then in Bihar. But BJP’s continued attempts to make it the centrepiece of its political strategy is a grave threat to the idea of India,” it said.
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AAP said it was determined to “politically oppose all corrupt and communal forces which in our view are the primary danger to Indian society.”

In his address, Kejriwal listed achievements of the AAP government in the 10 months, and said “We have worked so hard. I can challenge, even Sheila (Dikshit) government did not achieve in 15 years what we did in last 10 months. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had the entire nation at his disposal. But he did not do anything.”

Asserting that his main aim is to tackle corruption, Kejriwal said no government has ever sacked its own minister for alleged corruption without facing any demand. Kejriwal had sacked Asim Ahmed Khan in October following allegations of corruption.

“There is no such instance in the past that a government sacked its own minister found involved in corruption without facing a demand. We see how governments keep brushing corruption cases under the carpet, especially against their ministers.

“But in the case of our government… Someone had sent a clip on WhatsApp. We saw it and felt that the minister was involved. We analysed it and summoned the minister and confronted him. He confessed and we sacked him in a press conference in an hour,” he said.

Assuring that the Janlokpal bill will be passed in the ongoing Winter Session of Delhi Assembly, Kejriwal said, “It’s the same old bill minus citizen charter and vigilance. We have implemented the vigilance aspect. Citizen charter is being tabled. So BJP and Congress have no issue to protest against.”

He also claimed that the party is “implementing the idea of Swaraj through executive orders and not through legislation, because Centre would never clear it. Why should we give them an opportunity to install Swaraj?”

On government’s achievements, Kejriwal said, “We completed a flyover before deadline. Metro also completed its project ahead of deadline. But what is different is, we saved Rs 100 crore on it.