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Arvind Kejriwal in Amritsar: AAP is getting back on its feet in Punjab

Catch Team | Updated on: 29 May 2017, 22:46 IST

After its defeat in the Punjab Assembly elections three months ago and the turmoil in the party that followed, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is getting back on its feet in the state. The central leadership has decided to give autonomy to the state unit and assured that “functionaries from Delhi” won't call the shots any more. The party's volunteers are once again trying to galvanise support at the local level in Punjab.

It is in this connection that the party's national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal came to Amritsar for a day-long visit, his first after the party's defeat at the hands of the Congress in the Assembly polls.

Kejriwal's visit

AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in his interaction meet with volunteers at Amritsar said that AAP has been formed with an aim to cleanse the corrupt administrative and political system and it will be continue its fight selflessly with a sole aim of public welfare.

He said that though the results of Punjab Assembly elections were not up to their expectations but still people of Punjab have chosen Aam Aadmi Party to represent them as the major Opposition party and AAP will will ensure complete justice to this role.

Kejriwal said that they volunteers are the backbone of the party and their works should be done on priority by the party MLAs but he also appealed to the volunteers to refer genuine cases that actually need support.

Taking a jibe at CM Amarinder Singh, he said that Congress had promised jobs and free smart phones for the youths in its manifesto but the promises still remain undelivered. While the Congress government promised 100% debt waiver for farmers, now it has taken a U-turn from this statement also. He said that in such circumstances, when the Congress government is unable to stand by its promises, it is imperative that Amarinder issues a public apology or face state wide stir by AAP,.

Party overhaul

With the party's ace campaigner Bhagwant Mann has been declared the new state convener, reportedly with a rider that he needs to check his drinking habits, AAP's organisational structure is in for a complete overhaul.

The party announced the dissolution of its state unit some days back and this was followed by co-convener Aman Arora meeting volunteers and office bearers throughout the state seeking suggestions regarding new office bearers. It was done under a programme named AAP Apnya Naal’ (AAP with its own brethren) which began on May 18.

The party has decided to form a disciplinary committee to examine accusations of anti-party activities by certain members. This committee will keep a vigil on anti party activities on print, electronic, social media etc and will act against who found guilty.

Bhagwant Mann has been claiming that rumors and misinformation being spread by Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and BJP will not affect AAP and the party will bounce back with more strength. He claims that lakhs of volunteers are still connected with the party. Recently BJP's national president Amit Shah during a visit to Chandigarh had dispelled rumours that some of the AAP MLAs were in touch with his party ready to jump fences.

Kejriwal's Amritsar visit assumes special significance in the light of the former state convener Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi having bid adieu to the party. One thing that is of utmost importance for AAP in Punjab is to put its house in order in the Majha area of the state. This was an area where the party was white-washed in the recent polls despite Ghuggi being from this belt.

The departure of his predecessor Succha Singh Chhotepur from AAP unceremoniously had taken its toll on its poll fortunes since this area is also the home turf of Chhotepur. Now, if the party wants to put up a good fight in the forthcoming local body polls which also includes the battle for Amritsar Municipal Corporation along with the Lok Sabha by-poll for Gurdaspur seat, it needs to pull up its socks in this region in particular and the entire state in general.

Arora had recently said that he wanted Chhotepur back in the party for which he would make personal efforts.

Meanwhile, the AAP leadership is also trying to go back to its strategy of launching public contact through hyper local agitations and programmes. This is a strategy that has helped the party become a household name in the state no matter that it lost the recent polls.

Party leader Sukhpal Khaira recently said that AAP will create pressure on the government to act against the corrupt ministers of the previous SAD-BJP government.

The party leaders and volunteers have started raising their voice on different issues. Senior party leader Paramjit Singh Kainth recently underlined that the newly formed Congress government’s honeymoon period is over. He pointed that the law and order situation remains grim.

He demanded, “Along with the waiving of loans of the farmers, the government should also give a loan waiver for agricultural labour.”

Joining the issue on the rampant competitive politics on cow, AAP leader HS Phoolka who is the leader of Opposition in the state assembly took on the attempts by the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited to discontinue the free electricity being provided to Gaushalas. He said that as this issue is attached to religio-cultural ethos of the society and is part of the social service rendered by the public at their own expenses, free power supply should continue to these Gaushalas.

The party has also raised the banner of demand for allocation of Rs. 3 crore per annum to each MLA in the state under the local area development fund and pass the MLA Local Area Development Fund Bill 2017 in coming Assembly session.

Aman Arora has stated that presently MLAs of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Kerala, Karnataka and Delhi etc are getting Rs 2 to Rs 4 crore as local area development fund and this must be replicated by Punjab government. He said that Delhi state Assembly has passed a Bill to raise the fund to 14 crores that is waiting the nod of Lieutenant General of Delhi.

Arora claims to have written to the Assembly Speaker seeking his permission to introduce a private member Bill in upcoming session. He has also requested MLAs of Congress, SAD and BJP to support the Bill for the overall development of the state. He said that with passage of Bill, the disparity in spending funds in specified constituencies will end.

Meanwhile, Phoolka recently came out with a shocking revelation of no private member Bill being introduced in the Punjab Assembly in the last 15 years. He said that Congress chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh who used to accuse the previous government of step motherly treatment to the constituencies related to members of Opposition parties must avail the opportunity to fill the gap.

Phoolka has also launched a drive to visit schools under Punjab School Education Board coming up with very poor results for class 10 and 12 exams. He began with a visit to the government school in Jassowal village of Ludhiana that recorded 10 per cent result in recently announced 12th class results. The purpose of the drive is to understand and highlight the reasons for poor level of education in government schools.

“Around a week has passed since the result has announced but no official has bothered to know the reason of poor result. The education department and concerned minister must give statement on the issue,” he said.

First published: 29 May 2017, 22:46 IST