Aam Aadmi Party convenor and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, on Monday, said that his party was not looking at the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but that there would be an ‘opportunity’ in Punjab. Speaking at the first National Council meeting of the party since the dramatic one in March that saw expulsion of senior leadership, Kejriwal made comparisons between the situations in Delhi and in Punjab for the party.
The council, a body of all the founding members of the party, had met to reconstitute the National Executive of the party, as the latter’s tenure is about to expire. The party also unanimously extended the tenure of it founding members. The executive had been running a few members short, as former leader Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha were expelled at the council meet in March after a serious row with Kejriwal.
Kejriwal issued challenges to other political players, saying his government’s work in Delhi rivalled and outdid the work done by Congresswoman and former CM Sheila Dikshit in the city, and by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India.
“We had two aims in the beginning – tackling corruption and bringing Jan Lokpal and Swaraj. In the last 10 months, we have worked so hard, I can challenge, Sheila (Dikshit) government did not do in 15 years. (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi had the entire nation at his disposal, even he did not do,” said Kejriwal.
He added that his government had fought corruption by being the only one sack its own Minister, instead of “brushing corruption cases under the carpet”, referring to the public sacking of former minister Asim Ahmed Khan. He also pointed out how the government was saving crores on projects, instead of overspending.
“We completed a flyover before deadline. Metro also completed its project ahead of deadline. But what is different is, we saved Rs100 crores on it.”
Kejriwal further said that since the Modi-led central government would never allow the “idea of Swaraj” to be implemented via legislation, the AAP government was doing so through executive order.
Kejriwal also talked about the Jan Lokpal Bill, the idea that had first won him popularity in during the Anna Andolan, won him his first election and had been the cause for him to quit his first government. The AAP government claimed to have cleared the Bill in a recent Cabinet meeting, and will table it in the upcoming Assembly session. Kejriwal said, “Lokpal is also going to be passed in this session. It’s the same old bill minus citizen charter and vigilance. We have implemented the vigilance aspect. Citizen charter is being tabled today. So BJP and Congress have no issue to protest against.
If the council meeting was filled with all those happy with and loyal to Kejriwal, then outside the drama from March was spilling over, as a crowd of suspended party members protested the meeting. They had been recently suspended apparently for anti party activities such as supporting Bhushan and Yadav’s movement Swaraj Abhiyan. A day earlier, Shanti Bhushan, a founder member of AAP, had spoken out against the party’s “lack of transparency”. Though AAP had invited the senior Bhushan to attend, he refused to go as the list of invitees was not disclosed, and Prashant said that about 100 to 300 party members had not been invited.