AAP NATIONAL spokesperson, vice-president of Delhi Jal Board and now newly appointed co-in-charge of Punjab Raghav Chadha feels that the farmers’ agitation will have a big impact on the Punjab Assembly polls in February 2022 and that Congress, SAD and BJP have “backstabbed” the farmers and been “exposed” in the eyes of the state’s voters.
During his two-day visit to Punjab, Chadha was seen conversing in Punjabi as he said that he sees AAP as the only ray of hope for the voters as of now:
What was the idea behind your visit to Punjab?
I have been to Punjab a number of times as I have my roots here. My relatives stay in Ludhiana, Jalandhar. After taking over as co-convenor of Punjab unit, this was my first visit. I paid obeisance at Golden Temple, went to Moga to meet families of farmers who lost their lives during this struggle. I even met Ahrtiya Federation president Vijay Kalra and other members who were raided by the I-T department recently. There are many issues to be taken up in Punjab but as of now we are concerned about our hardworking farmers who are protesting against these black laws. We need to strengthen our organisational structure and that is being done.
What was your first impression about Punjab as co-convenor?
Wherever I went, I could feel that the people are desperate for change. They tried the SAD-BJP alliance (which has now split), they tried Congress. However, all parties cheated them. I can see that in 2022, people of Punjab will see the change in us for which they are desperate.
What all services is AAP providing to farmers at Delhi borders?
From langar to kambal, we are playing a role of sewadaar for farmers and are trying to help as much as we can. We are playing the role of a mejbaan for farmers who are protesting in tough conditions. We have provided WiFi points at Singhu for better connectivity for thousands of farmers, have arranged water tankers. So it is a nishkam sewa for our farmers who are protesting for their rights.
How do you perceive the ongoing farmers agitation affecting the 2022 state Assembly polls?
The farmers’ agitation is a ‘paak-saaf’ (clean) agitation and should not be viewed from the prism of politics. However, since this question has been asked I will not refrain from saying that three political parties out of four in Punjab have back-stabbed the Indian farmer. First of all, BJP, because it is the mother of all the black laws, second is the Congress, and in particular Capt Amarinder Singh, who is the father of these black laws since he was part of the committee that drafted these legislations and it was with his implicit as well as explicit consent that these three laws were drafted.
The Akali Dal is now the most hated political party in Punjab because they have acted in cahoots with BJP from the moment the idea of these three black laws was conceived to the drafting of these legislations to their passing in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Subsequently, once this law came into existence, they have orchestrated this temporary break-up which cannot be seen as a permanent divorce with the BJP.
What are your views on the picketing on residences of BJP leaders in Punjab. Also, how do you view the damage caused to mobile towers of Reliance?
All these incidents have happened because of the way BJP has been behaving. If the BJP actually wants to resolve the matter, all they have to do is to accede to the demands of the farmers. All demands of farmers are just and must be adhered to. That’s all I have to say.
Why has AAP felt the need for a co-in-charge for Punjab when it already had an in-charge?
Just as to fly an aeroplane you need a co-pilot, similarly a co-in-charge is required. As simple as that. My party has given me, my leader Arvind Kejriwal has given me such a big responsibility on these young shoulders of mine. I pray to the almighty God that he should give me the ability to do justice to this job.
Don’t you think appointing state in-charges from Delhi perpetuates the narrative that AAP does not give autonomy to its Punjab unit?
In every political party there are people who are appointed as in-charges and observers. So it must be viewed like that. Harish Rawat is the in-charge of Congress. These are checks and balances and so this must be viewed like that. The idea is only to aid and assist the Punjab unit in whatever manner possible. Ultimately it is their call and the unit is capable of doing this.
Very soon after 2017 polls, the dissidence within AAP ranks very nearly caused a split. Though two dissidents have re-joined the party, what is being done to reach out to others?
I am very candid about this. Every good person is welcome who has the prosperity of Punjab as his/her priority which is over and above his/her personal ambition. Every such person is welcome in this party. I am not saying only those who have left us may only be inducted, in fact there are several good people in other political parties in Punjab. Not everyone is a crook. I usually give the example of how at the start of the Mahabharat, right before the Shankhnaad happened and the war began, Yudhishtir made a very open statement. On the first day, he said that if any warrior on my side feels that I am in the wrong and Kauravas are right, he is free to cross over and join the enemy’s forces. He also invited anybody from the Kauravas side also, if they felt that the truth was with him, then they were welcome to join him with open arms. And there was one member of the Kauravas, called Yuyutsu, who crossed over to Pandavas. So there are good people in every political outfit and with that in mind, we will be reaching out to several people. By that I mean those in active politics or were in active politics or have nothing to do with active politics — all these persons will be welcomed and will be approached to join us.
There is a feeling that though AAP is strong in Malwa region, it has woefully inadequate presence in Doaba and Majha. What is being done to address this?
We will make a strategy for this. We will all sit down and make a strategy for each constituency. To solve a problem you must understand the problem and be cognisant of it. We are cognisant and we know our strength as well as our weaknesses. And going forward we will be addressing those weaknesses in an extremely adequate manner. And several plans, campaigns and organisational strengthening methods will be undertaken.
AAP leadership has been talking about forming the next government in Punjab. What is it that you are doing right this time which will bring different results?
This is not my party line, this is my personal line that first of all when a youngster turns 16 and goes for a driving licence exam he may be knowing how to drive a vehicle but he says let me wait for two more years till 18. Now that experience and maturity of 18 years is now in us, the residents of the state feel. So this time they will give us licence to drive the vehicle. For the first time in the history of independent India, a new party fought Vidhan Savha elections and became the principal Opposition in the state. Akali Dal, a century-old party, was defeated, and this was a big achievement. The people gave us the role of a constructive Opposition for five years and said that after five years we will review your performance. Now after five years they feel confident enough to give us our driving licence and take forward Punjab.
Who will be the driver?
We will very soon let you know who it will be. Driver will be one from the three crore people of Punjab. He will be the pride of Punjab and people of Punjab will be proud of him.
How prepared is your party for the upcoming municipal polls in Punjab?
We are fully prepared and I will be visiting yet again ahead of polls and during campaigning as well. We will be contesting all the seats of municipal councils and municipal corporations in Punjab. We will be making a mark in the polls.
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