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In Punjab, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, his team steer AAP as local leadership ride pillion

Sources within AAP say that while the Chief Ministerial face of the party will be announced in the weeks to come but the Delhi CM will be the person who will be leading the election campaign.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh |
November 27, 2021 11:04:45 am
AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal talks to traders in Amritsar, Punjab. (Twitter/AAP Punjab)

With his repeated visits to Punjab in recent weeks, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has virtually taken the control of the election campaign of the Aam Aadmi Party in the run up to the 2022 Assembly polls making it clear that it is he who will be steering the local leadership.

The AAP national convenor will be visiting Mohali on Saturday in support of the teachers sitting on protest against the Punjab government. The visit comes on the heels of his two-day visit to Moga and Amritsar a couple of days back and that of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who too has been travelling across the state meeting businessmen.

The state leadership of the party remain in attendance during the visits of Kejriwal. This includes state in-charge Jarnail Singh and co-in-charge Raghav Chadha. However, for all intents and purposes, it is Chadha who is performing the task of state in-charge as Jarnail Singh has also been appointed in charge of the Chandigarh unit of the party and is more involved in the day to day functioning of the UT wing wing in the run up to the Municipal Corporation elections next month.

Sources within AAP say that while the chief ministerial face of the party will be announced in the weeks to come, the Delhi CM will be the person who will be leading the election campaign. “We have a CM who has a track record of having delivered in Delhi. Why should we not use him as our brand in Punjab? People trust him a lot and it is in his name that people vote for the party,” said an AAP leader who did not want to be named.

The state leadership of the party, including party president Bhagwant Mann, Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema and the other MLAs still with the party, have been issuing statements in the media, but the real outreach programme of the party is being run by Kejriwal, and now Sisodia too.

During his last visit to Punjab, the Delhi CM launched a poster campaign – ‘Ek Mauka Kejriwal nu‘ (give a chance to Kejriwal).

As of now, Kejriwal has used his visits to announce big electoral promises including free electricity up to 300 units, free medical treatment for all, and Rs ,1000 allowance per month for all women in the state above the age of 18 years. His visits have taken place in the three regions of the state — Majha, Malwa and Doaba — and the focus of these visits has been reaching out to businessmen and farmers.

The move to reach out to protesting employees and the unemployed is now the next gambit being played by Kejriwal as a substantial number of government contractual employees and unemployed youth are sitting on protest across the state. A day before Kejriwal’s visit, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Transport Minister Amarinder Singh Raja Warring had a tiff with protesting contractual employees in Muktsar, who were demanding permanent jobs and blocked the convoy of the ministers.

Speaking to The Indian Express, AAP’s Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu, who has been suspended by the party for more than three years now, said Kejriwal has no option but to take control of the campaign given the fact that most of his flock have deserted the party and joined Congress. Mohali, where Kejriwal will be visiting, falls in his constituency.

“However, the direct intervention of the Delhi leadership, including Kejriwal, Sisodia, Chadha and Sandeep Pathak (a Delhi AAP leader), seriously undermines the state leadership of AAP. This was always the problem with AAP that it has not shown any faith in the state leadership. I was the first one to point this out by writing a mail to Kejriwal in December 2017 asking him to strengthen the state unit. However, I got no reply from him,” said Sandhu.

He added that dialogue started by Kejriwal with farmers, businessmen and now the protesting employees and youth had been started by him (Sandhu) in the run up to the 2017 polls. “I must have held nearly 35 such dialogues in my capacity as the chairman of the manifesto committee. But now Kejriwal has taken this mantle upon himself and is holding these discussions and making promises himself,” he said.

Meanwhile, there are indications that Sandhu may be the next AAP MLA to quit the party and join Congress. He was seen Friday sharing the stage in Kharar with Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi even as the previous contender for this seat, Jagmohan Singh Kang, was missing from the scene. Kang has been seeking the ticket from the constituency for his son.

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