Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, who has time and again dubbed himself as the ‘orginal Aam Aadmi’, on Thursday shied away from answering the question put forth to him by farmers, visiting villages and taking a look at crops damaged by pink bollworm first hand. Instead, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo chose to meet a select group of farmers, who had been invited by the party, at a resort in Mansa-Khiyala Road and hear their issues.
Sources later revealed that AAP leaders themselves had distributed invitation cards to selected farmers of Malwa districts for the meeting.
On Thursday, inside the resort, the invited farmers were spotted raising slogans in favour of the AAP, Delhi CM and the party’s Punjab unit president, Bhagwant Mann.
Outside the resort, however, it was a different story, with hundreds of farmers from various unions staging a protest near the venue under the banner of Sanyukta Kisan Morcha. Krishan Chauhan, one of the protesters representing Kul Hind Kisan Union, said, “As per the SKM’s call, we had reached the venue to raise our questions before Kejriwal. He claimed to have held dialogues with us farmers. But when we asked him questions, he evaded them.”
He added, “If he is open for talks with farmers, why is he talking with the ones who have been invited with invitation cards? He should have rather visited the villages to meet the real farmers.”
Mahinder Singh Bhainibagha, another farmer from Bharatiya Kisan Union-Dakaunda said, “We protested outside the resort and raised slogans against their campaign as we are fed up with all the political parties. Later, the AAP workers invited a few of us inside the venue saying that they can arrange a meeting with Kejriwal. But when we asked him [Arvind Kejriwal] questions, he evaded answering them saying what we asked were political. We have the right to question a politician before making up our minds whether to vote for a particular party or not. We asked for the AAP’s stand on section 370 abolished in Jammu, and those on issues of more powers to the state government and he felt irritated.”
Chauhan said, “When I asked him about his stand over the morcha of farmers at Delhi borders which is continuing its protest for 11 months, he stood up saying that we were asking him political questions. He says that PM Narendra Modi avoids taking direct questions from the masses and even the media. He is doing the same thing.”
On Thursday, even the local media was also not allowed inside the resort for the meeting and instead only links with the live feed of the event were sent to them.
On Friday, Kejriwal is scheduled to interact with traders and industrialists in Bathinda where farmers under the banner of SKM will again question him, Chauhan said.
Earlier on Thursday morning, Kejriwal arrived in a train to Sangrur where he visited AAP’s Punjab president Bhagwant Mann’s house and met his mother and other family members. Kejriwal evaded questions from the media even at Sangrur and only stated,” I ate makki ki roti and sarson ka saag at Bhagwant Mann’s house, and met with his family. Now I am going to Mansa.”
Gurjant Singh Mansa, another protesting farmer, said,” Kejriwal is doing politics in the name of farmers and when we question him, he says we are doing politics. If he was so concerned about cotton crop damage due to pink bollworm, why did he come a month after crop damage.”
Protest in Bathinda
Earlier on Thursday morning, BKU Ugrahan members who have been staging a dharna outside Bathinda mini secretariat since October 25 seeking compensation for damaged cotton crops, gheraoed Bathinda district urban president, Arun Wadhawan. The protesting farmers tried to gherao the vehicles of finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal’s wife, Veenu Badal, Arun Wadhwan. But Veenu Badal’s car managed to cross, while Wadhawan’s vehicle was stopped and he had to come out of the car and face the ire of farmers. Farmers said that the FM was not coming before the farmers though they had staged a dharna outside his house from October 5 to October 19 and later outside the DC’s office from October 25 onwards. As Wadhawan remains with Manpreet Badal most of the time, so we gheraoed him. Our protest will continue till our demands are met.”