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Bhagwant Mann by his side, Kejriwal parries query on Punjab CM face

"When the right time comes, CM face will be announced for Punjab. He or she could be anyone. Presently, we are not thinking about it," Kejriwal said during a press conference to announce party's pre-poll promises for health services, in Ludhiana, Thursday.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana |
September 30, 2021 8:51:43 pm
Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab unit president Bhagwant Mann during a press conference in Ludhiana.

Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday once again parried the question on the party’s CM face 2022 Punjab Assembly election, saying the name of a good candidate would be made public when the “the right times comes”.

“When the right time comes, CM face will be announced for Punjab. He or she could be anyone. Presently, we are not thinking about it,” Kejriwal said during a press conference to announce party’s pre-poll promises for health services, in Ludhiana, Thursday.

The AAP, which is looking to size the opportunity amid the ongoing internal wrangling in the ruling Congress in the border state, has kept mum on its CM face for the next year’s polls even as several reports have in the past suggested that party’s Punjab unit president Bhagwant Mann is a prime aspirant.

Citing media reports on Mann, Kejriwal called him as his younger brother. “Whatever stories are being printed in newspapers…there is nothing of this sort,” Kejriwal said, in an apparent reference to reports on the Sangrur MP sulking over not being named the AAP’s CM face.

With Mann, a comedian-turned-politician, seated next to him on stage, Kejriwal said there was a time when the Sangrur MP used to earn lakhs of rupees from his entertainment shows. “But he left everything for Punjab. He sacrificed everything for Punjab. And this was even before he joined AAP,” Kejriwal said, adding people did not join his party for plum posts. “All of them have come to serve the society and the country,” he said while addressing the media on the conclusion of his two-day tour of Punjab.

Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal during a press conference in Ludhiana.

During his visit to Amritsar in June too, the AAP supremo had announced that the party’s CM’s face for the Punjab polls will be from the Sikh community. However, he had not named anyone. The supporters of Mann have been demanding that the party leadership declare him as its chief ministerial candidate.

Asked if there was any possibility of Navjot Singh Sidhu, who recently resigned as the Punjab Congress president, joining the AAP, he said, “Ye ek kaalpanik sawaal hai. It is a hypothetical question.”

‘Aam aadmi CM’

On Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi, calling himself an “aam aadmi” (common man), Kejriwal said, “Kejriwal ki nakal karna aasan hai, amal karna mushkil hai. (It is easy to copy Kejriwal but difficult to tread his path). During my first tenure as Delhi CM for 49 days, I had sent 32 corrupt officials to jail. I had suspended a minister within an hour over corruption charges. There are allegations that tainted and corrupt persons have been made ministers in Channi’s cabinet. I urge Channi to get courage and will like Kejriwal and take action against them if he wants to copy me,” he said.

Stubble burning

He termed AAP leaders’ reported statements that farmers in Punjab should be penalised for stubble-burning as “complete lie”. “Who said this? None of our leaders has ever said this. You show me the statement that any AAP leader has said this, I will quit politics,” he said while detailing the steps taken by his government in Delhi to curb stubble-burning.

“We have made a bio-decomposer, which turns straw into manure. It is not the farmers’ fault they have to sow the next crop. It is the fault of the government, which failed to provide them with a solution. What were they doing? Why did they not find solutions? We do not indulge in the politics of blame game. We do the politics of finding solutions to problems,” the Delhi CM said

Unemployment

Kejriwal also targeted the Congress government in Punjab over unemployment in the state. “(Former CM) Capt Amarinder Singh had promised ghar ghar rozgar for youths of Punjab. Congress had even distributed employment cards before 2017 polls and youths are still flashing those cards. I urge Channi to fulfil this promise and give jobs to the unemployed,” said Kejriwal.


He said his government in Delhi took several measures to address the issue that had aggravated during the pandemic and lockdown. “We made a job portal where both those looking for jobs and the employers can publicise their details. Within 2 months, more than 10 lakh jobs were publicized on it and many got employed,” said Kejriwal.

“Like Punjab, Delhi was under huge debt. Now, the CAG report says that only Delhi government is running in profit. Governments don’t lack money but clear intentions to do things,” he added.

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