Declaring that the fight in the upcoming Delhi elections will be directly between AAP and the BJP, Arvind Kejriwal has said Aam Admi Party would contest the polls against “very powerful forces” only with “clean money”.
Addressing hundreds of AAP volunteers and supporters gathered here, Kejriwal said in the previous election, AAP was taken lightly by its opponents who felt since the party is new, it would not be able to garner more than 3-4 seats but the party emerged victorious with 28 seats.
“This time we are against very powerful forces. This time the fight is directly between the BJP and AAP. BJP has a lot of money, it has every kind of money,” Kejriwal said, adding, AAP does not want to fight the elections with black money.
“AAP is the only party which is fighting for clean politics and corruption-free India and I would encourage all of you to donate to the party because we want clean money,” Kejriwal told PTI after rallying AAP volunteers and supporters who had travelled from Washington, Boston, Chicago and other US cities to meet the party leader.
Kejriwal, 46, said there is excitement in the party as it vies for the people’s mandate to govern Delhi once again, after he resigned from the post of Chief Minister following a 49-day stint in power. “The hearts of all Indians working here beat for India,” he said, adding “they feel very strongly for India. They want corruption free India”.
He said it will not be difficult to arrange crores of black money and use it to fund the elections but his party has decided not to use black money. Urging Indians living in the US to donate generously to the party, he said, “We will fight elections with less money but the party would only use money obtained honestly.”
“Please encourage as many people as you can to donate money,” Kejriwal said, asking the diaspora to make 10 calls a day to people in Delhi encouraging them to vote for the party. During a packed day in the city, Kejriwal also met supporters at a local Gurudwara before heading to a hotel in Times Square to address AAP volunteers.
He then spoke to students and faculty of the prestigious Columbia University at a closed-door event organised by the School of International and Public Affairs. Columbia students, who attended the session, later said there was a mixed reaction to Kejriwal’s address with some expressing hope in him and his party and others voicing their concerns over his resignation from the post of Chief Minister even after winning the elections.
“There were people who were excited about his ideas while others voiced their anger and frustration over his quitting as CM and his slamming other political parties and leaders and depicting a good picture of himself,” Madhav Neupane, a graduate student, said, adding that while people are not giving up on him, they feel Kejriwal still has a lot to prove.
Clinical psychology student Shristhi said Kejriwal assured the students that “he is back” and “hopeful” for the upcoming elections. Samant Kakkar, second-year student at the School of International Affairs, said it was refreshing to meet Kejriwal and the “sense we came out with was why are we so impatient as a country that we idolise people so fast and then pull them down”.
Kakkar added that Kejriwal’s decision to quit as Delhi Chief Minister appeared to be more of a “political naivete” and people should be more sympathetic towards him. Richa Maheswhari, also a second-year student, said as a politician Kejriwal is not “very diplomatic” about a lot of things he says.
She however added that the reaction to Kejriwal was mixed as a lot of people still hold cynicism against him and his plans for the future. Kejriwal had resigned from the post of Chief Minister in February after suffering a defeat in the Delhi assembly on the Jan Lokpal Bill, bringing to an end a tumultuous run of 49-days in power.