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Punjab: Kejriwal woos Dalits, kicks off Lok Sabha campaignhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/punjab-kejriwal-woos-dalits-kicks-off-lok-sabha-campaign-5547996/

Punjab: Kejriwal woos Dalits, kicks off Lok Sabha campaign

Kejriwal also lashed out at the detractors of the party and said that contrary to the assertions that AAP was disintegrating, the party was still strong.

Punjab: Kejriwal woos Dalits, kicks off Lok Sabha campaign
AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses a rally in Barnala, Punjab, on Sunday. (Express photo: Jasbir Malhi)

AAM AADMI Party (AAP) national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, Sunday launched his party’s Lok Sabha campaign with an aggressive focus on the Dalit community at his first political rally in Punjab in nearly two years. Addressing a well-attended gathering of party supporters, who had come from neighbouring areas of Sangrur, Bathinda and Faridkot districts of Malwa belt, at the local grain market here, Kejriwal recounted the welfare measures that his government had taken for Dalits in Delhi even as he blamed the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh for having “deceived the Dalit community and people of Punjab through false election promises”.

AAP had maximum votes from the Malwa belt and of the 20 seats that it won in the 2017 Assembly polls, 18 were from Malwa. “Dalits are the most aggrieved section of the society. Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes are the worst affected. They are poor and need jobs. Captain has cheated Dalits. He is now selling government hospitals to private companies. Government schools are also being sold to private companies. If the entire government falls into the hands of private companies, what will you (Amarinder) be the CM for,” he said.

The Delhi CM, who was accompanied by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who is also the Punjab in-charge of the party, devoted a large part of his speech to giving details of the welfare measures that his government has taken for the poor and the downtrodden, particularly Dalits, in the health and education sectors.

“Dalits were in bad shape in Delhi too. Ye humara shiksha mantri hai (This is our (Delhi) education minister). He worked day and night and improved the conditions of government schools. Sarkari schools ka kaya palat kar diya (He transformed the government schools),” he said.

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Kejriwal also dwelled upon free coaching for Dalit children and youth for entrance examinations and competitive examinations, saying his (Delhi) government gave free coaching to the children no matter what the cost. His statements drew wide applause from the crowd. He also referred to several Dalit leaders of AAP in Punjab and how his party was promoting them. “Leader of Opposition Harpal Cheema is a lawyer and he is a Dalit. He is following in the footsteps of Babasaheb Ambedkar. He is doing good work. Budh Ram, a Dalit, has been made president of the party’s core committee in Punjab. Our MP Sadhu Singh, also a Dalit, is a member of the party’s national executive,”
he said.

Kejriwal also lashed out at the detractors of the party and said that contrary to the assertions that AAP was disintegrating, the party was still strong. “Some people are saying jhaadu (party’s election symbol) tili tili ho gayi (the jhaadu has broken into pieces). Kisi maayi ke laal ki himmat nahin hai jo is jhaadu ko tili tili kar de (No one has the guts to disintegrate the party). Congress and Akalis did their best to do this. par upar wala rab hamare saath hai (But God is with us),” he said.

He said he had been attacked four times in the past two years. “Have you ever heard of attack on a CM four times? They tried to get me killed. [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi has done his best to stall our government in Delhi. But we worked harder and we are fighting against them,” he said.

Without naming Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Kejriwal said the people who have left AAP were those who were not fit to be in the party. “They were selfish. They were greedy for tickets and posts. They tried to break the party. Upar wale ne jhaadu chala di (God cleaned it all up). All bad people are out of the party and good people like Bhagwant Mann are in. Bhagwan safai kar raha hai. Usne jhaadu chalayi hai. Jhaadu tili tili nahin hui hai. Jhadu se safai hui hai AAP ki (God is cleaning up the party, the party has not disintegrated, it has gotten cleansed),” he said.

The AAP supremo also lashed out at Amarinder for making false promises and deceiving voters. “Captain had sent people to villages for getting job cards filled. I want to ask you to raise hands if you have got jobs. Not one job has been given. His people used to claim that jobs will be given in 30 days. Captain has deceived people. He has not waived loans. He promised smartphones. Raise hands if you have got them. No one has been given. Pension has also not been raised,” he said.

He appealed to the crowd to ensure AAP secured a resounding victory in the Lok Sabha polls. Last time we would have got 100 seats (in assembly polls) but Congress and Akalis conspired against us. Now all 13 Lok Sabha seats should come to AAP under the leadership of Bhagwant Mann,” he said.