THREE DAYS after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) released a Dalit-specific manifesto, the party is under the scanner of Punjab Election Commission with the latter issuing a notice to the state unit of the party after taking note of the “caste-based” politics. Chief Electoral Officer VK Singh told the Indian Express that he had asked the party to submit two copies of its Dalit manifesto to the EC. “We had sent an advisory to all political parties to submit copies of their manifesto to the commission. AAP has failed to do so. I will go through the manifesto and see what is to be done next,” he said.
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Sources at the CEO’s office said the EC had taken note of AAP appealing to a particular caste to garner votes. AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had, three days ago, released a 19-point Dalit manifesto in Goraya. He had also announced that the party’s Deputy Chief Minister, if it came to power, would be a Dalit. “The uplift of the Dalit community is a must for the progress of Punjab and once voted to power, the party would take special care of the Dalit community in the state.”
AAP, sources say, could land in trouble as para 3.2 of chapter VII of Appendix XV of code of conduct implemented clearly states: “There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Mosques, churches, temples or other places of worship shall not be used as forum for election propaganda.” Though the code of conduct is yet to be implemented, the EC can take note as the manifesto is a document of promises ahead of an election.
This is for the first time that AAP has come out with a manifesto specially for Dalits. With Dalits forming 32.5 per cent of the total population in Punjab, all political parties are trying to woo the Dalits as they can make or mar the prospects of a party. And, AAP went a step ahead and released a separate manifesto for the community.
AAP secretary Gulshan Chhabra said they had received a notice from the EC. “We will be submitting the copies of our manifesto to the commission soon.”