Kejriwal ‘stopped’ from meeting Modi

Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia in Ahmedabad on Friday.Javed Raja Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia in Ahmedabad on Friday. Javed Raja

High drama ensued on the outskirts of Gandhinagar on Friday when police “stopped” the car of Arvind Kejriwal and did not allow him to meet Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, whom the AAP leader accused of lying about the development in the state. 

The former Delhi CM had to wait for an hour at Sarghasan Chowkdi outside Gandhinagar and finally returned empty handed after he failed to get an appointment with Modi to give him a list of 17 questions on development claims in Gujarat. Kejriwal, who has pitched his Gujarat campaign attacking the BJP’s PM candidate, had suddenly decided to meet him and question his decisions.

The road was barricaded, and riot control vehicles and heavy police were already in place when Kejriwal’s Innova reached Sarghasan Chowkdi on way to meet Modi at his residence. Kejriwal, who was waiting in his car on the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar highway, told The Indian Express, “They have stopped us here and Manish (Sisodia) has gone to get the appointment.”

Only Sisodia, a senior party colleague, was permitted to visit Modi’s office, but came back disappointed. “ We have not been given an appointment for today. They said they will try to get an appointment in the next three-four days,” he said.

The police, however, had a different version. Gandhinagar SP Sharad Singhal asserted, “Kejriwal’s car was not stopped, but they stopped here.” He said: “I took Sisodia along with me to the CM’s office, where he gave a written request.”

The officer added, “We told Kejriwal he could take a tour of Gandhinagar if he wanted. But he said he would like to go to the airport.” Kejriwal was scheduled to take a flight for Jaipur and will return to Ahmedabad on Saturday for a rally.

A group of around 20-25 suspected BJP members waved black flags and shouted anti-Kejriwal slogans at the spot where the former Delhi CM was waiting. The AAP convener had left for Gandhinagar soon after a 90-minute late media briefing in Ahmedabad.

“We wanted to meet Modi but were attacked. I am not a terrorist that he refused to meet me. Why is he scared of me? We have given a list of 17 questions to him,” Kejriwal said at the Sanganer Airport in Jaipur on Friday afternoon.

On the third day of his Gujarat tour to gain first-hand experience of development claims of the state government, Kejriwal did not take question from the media and read out 17 points he wanted to raise during his meeting with Modi.

He attacked Modi for “favouring four-five big industrialists” and said, “People say you have such close relations with Mukesh Ambani that you have made Ambani family’s son-in-law a minister. You made Saurabh Patel a minister.”

Questioning the induction of tainted ministers Babu Bokhiriya (convicted in an illegal mining case) and Purushottam Solanki (accused in a fishing contract scam), he said, “Didn’t Modi find one honest man in the six crore Gujaratis to appoint as minister?” One of his questions was who pays for the private chopper which Modi takes for his rallies.

On the Sikh farmers issue, he said, “If Modiji was so interested in giving back the farmers their land, why is his government fighting in the Supreme Court?”

He claimed there was rampant corruption in every government department. “Bribe of Rs 10 lakh is sought for the post of talati. People have to pay bribe for BPL cards, to avail Indira Awas Yojna benefits and even for industrial licence.”

The AAP leader also asked the BJP’s PM candidate to state his stand on the issue of gas pricing.

He alleged the Modi government was purchasing solar power without proper tendering process and at a high rate of Rs 15 per unit.
On employment, he pointed out that there is a large registration under MNREGA in Gujarat, which shows widespread unemployment in the state.

He also asked Modi the reason for the “poor” education system in Gujarat.

Chartered plane trouble

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal drew flak on Friday for using a chartered plane to reach a media event in New Delhi, in the middle of his four-day “assessment” tour of Gujarat. While Kejriwal clarified that the India Today Group — the organisers of the conclave — had financed the chartered aircraft, politicians from opposing parties hit out at the former Delhi CM

In his tirade against Narendra Modi, Kejriwal has repeatedly raised questions on the BJP PM candidate’s use of aircraft allegedly funded by corporate houses.

In the evening, Kejriwal tweeted, “I wud urge modi ji and rahul gandhi ji also to disclose whose planes r they using and who pays for them… Since there was no regular flt, india today group hired a charter to reach me in delhi on time… (sic).”

BJP spokesperson Smriti Irani said, “He claims to be against VIP culture but does not follow what he says.” J&K CM Omar Abdullah said, “I didn’t know India Today organises charters for people on tight schedules, I’d have asked for one instead of flying budget.” ENS