A Dalit will be made deputy chief minister of Punjab if AAP comes to power, said Delhi Chief Minister and national convener of Aam Aadmi Party, Arvind Kejriwal, while invoking Dalit icons like Dr B R Ambedkar and BSP founder Kanshi Ram. Also, the party’s separate 19-point manifesto for Dalits was released, promising pucca houses for all Dalits, special cell for implementation of Post Matric Scholarship Scheme, SIT to fix responsibility for atrocities on Dalits and increase in the Shagun amount to Rs 51,000 on the marriage of a Dalit girl.
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Addressing a gathering at the grain market in the Dalit-dominated Doaba region of Punjab, Kejriwal said the uplift of Dalits was a must for the progress of Punjab and once voted to power, the AAP government would take special care of the community. “Being Dalits, Dr BR Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram faced several hardships in their lives and they realised that without the participation of Dalits in power, their lot would not improve. And, AAP will give that participation in power by appointing a Dalit as the deputy CM,” said Kejriwal, adding that other parties only talk about Dalit rights but no one gives them that.
“AAP would be the first party to appoint a Dalit Deputy CM in Punjab,” said Kejriwal, adding that their party was the only one to have a separate manifesto for Dalits and that too after discussing with the Dalit community.
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He further stated that in Delhi, too, they have made 12 Dalits MLAs and AAP had begun regularising safai karamcharis, who had not been regularised for decades. “Dalits believe in AAP because like others, we never deceive them and what we have promised in the document will be implemented cent per cent,” asserted the AAP national convener. “I am told that 18 lakh children study in government primary schools of Punjab. Of them, 14 lakh belong to Dalit families which reflect that Dalits are still there where they were 65 years back because those who have little bit of money, never send their children to government schools but to private schools,” said Kejriwal, adding that these parties did nothing for Dalits and when AAP comes to power, the government schools of Punjab would be totally changed on the lines of Delhi where the standard of government schools is much higher now than even private schools.
Kejriwal promised houses for all Dalits and said a low-cost housing scheme for them would be implemented to ensure a pucca house form every member of the community. He also said that the the Punjab Scheduled Caste Commission would be empowered, strengthened and expanded to ensure that grievances of Dalits are taken sriously and discrimination against them would be punishable.
In the manifesto, read out by senior AAP leader Jarnail Singh, it was mentioned that a special cell would be created to monitor proper implementation of Post Matric Scholarship scheme and there would be a time-bound inquiry to identify those who have looted money meant for Dalits under the scheme and to punish the guilty. “A special SIT will fix responsibility and recommend exemplary punishment for atrocities and false cases against Dalits in the last five years,” Kejriwal said, adding that the backlog of job vacancies for Dalits would be cleared, too. He further stated that a collateral free loan of Rs 2 lakh would be given to start small businesses or village-based enterprises to help poor members of the community earn a dignified living.
In the event of crop failure, farm labourers shall be given a compensation of Rs 10,000 for every month’s loss of work, pointed out Kejriwal, adding that job cards under MGNREGA would be made on priority for Dalits and more work areas would be identified for the scheme.
Annoucing the hike in amount under Shagun scheme to Rs 51,000, the Delhi CM said old-age pension, widow pension and handicapped pension, too, would be increased from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 and everyone would be eligible for old-age pension at 58.
To improve healthcare of the poor, Kejriwal assured: “Every village will have a modern Pind Sehat Clinic equipped with doctor, free medicines and diagnostic tests as provided in Delhi by the AAP government. Rs 5 lakh health insurance scheme will be introduced.”