Delhi CM also hit out at BJP over the recent legal troubles of AAP leaders and spoke of his vision for the country’s future.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday tore into the BJP at the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) first national convention in the national capital that was attended by almost 1,500 elected representatives of the party from 20 states.
Kejriwal, several of whose party colleagues are facing either facing corruption allegations or have been arrested over graft charges, framed the fight against the BJP as a struggle against “evil”. He also spoke of Gujarat, where the party is trying to make headway in the run-up to the coming Assembly elections, and brought up the “revdi” debate.
Here are five broad topics that the AAP leader touched upon in his speech.
Good versus evil
Emphasising that the AAP’s formation was an act of divine intervention, Kejriwal said “god had to come and intervene, and in 2012 the AAP was formed to save the government and the country”. He added, “This is not some coincidence. .. God has given us the responsibility and each one of you has to keep up to that and work for development.”
The AAP has always emphasised the importance of believers in its scheme of things, with the Delhi government in 2018 launching an initiative under which the government bears the cost of senior citizens’ travel to pilgrimage sites. Since then, the party has made a similar promise in states where it is looking to establish its presence, including Goa, Uttarakhand, and now Gujarat.
BJP and ‘revdi’
Kejriwal told his AAP colleagues that BJP was jealous of the popularity of the party’s politics of honesty. “They can’t bear our honesty. There are some things about AAP that they cannot bear — education, healthcare facilities and schemes which they call ‘revdi’. Their leaders have never spoken about education and healthcare facilities.”
Last month, targeting the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his comments on “revdi”, or freebie, politics, Kejriwal said people calling welfare schemes “free ki revdi (sweets)” were “traitors” to the country and asked what was wrong with providing free education, health, and electricity to citizens.
The AAP leader kept up his attack on Modi on Sunday, saying, “They are buying MLAs and then they stand on the ramparts of the Red Fort and say ‘I am fighting against corruption.’ He is not fighting corruption, he is fighting AAP.”
Arrests of AAP leaders
The AAP has increasingly come under pressure over the arrests of its senior leaders in corruption cases and allegations of corruption against others. The latest to be arrested is MLA Amanatullah Khan who was arrested last Friday in a two-year-old case on alleged irregularities in the Delhi Waqf Board.
Accusing the BJP of launching the second phase of “Operation Lotus” (in 2008, the BJP allegedly planned to engineer the defections of seven Opposition MLAs), the Delhi CM said, “Their phase-Il failed in Delhi and Punjab. So now they have arrested Amanatullah Khan in a fake case. Many of our MLAs have again started receiving calls from the BJP with offers of Rs 25 crore. They are being threatened that if you do not join BJP, you will also be arrested like Amanatullah Khan.”
Kejriwal told his party colleagues that the way AAP MLAs were facing possible inquiries by central agencies was “not a small thing”. He added. “They (the BJP) want to put all of them (AAP leaders) in jail … You all should be ready to go to jail for three to four months … They won’t be able to do anything … Jail is not that bad … we stayed in jail for 15 days … If everyone gets this courage, they won’t be able to anything to us. “
The CM also spoke of Satyendra Jain, who is in jail at present in a money laundering case, and said the former health minister should be given a Bharat Ratna for the work he has done to date. Kejriwal also referred to the accusations against his deputy Manish Sisodia and claimed state Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot was now being targeted.
The seeds AAP planted
At the start of his speech, Kejriwal said that 10 years ago, when the party was formed, he could not have imagined that one day so many representatives of his outfit would be present at the Indira Gandhi stadium in Delhi.
The CM said AAP was planting seeds across India and these seeds would grow into strong trees, like in Delhi and Punjab. He hoped that like in Delhi and Punjab, AAP would get fruitful results in Gujarat. Since the landslide victory in Punjab, the AAP has its eyes on the western state apart from Himachal Pradesh, where it is not that strong organisationally at the moment. Earlier this year, the party made a foray into Goa and opened its account with two MLAs.
“Seeds were planted in Delhi and Punjab and the plant has grown strong … We have planted seeds in Gujarat also and these seeds will grow very strong and become trees,” Kejriwal said. Referring to the party’s 27 councillors in the Surat Municipal Corporation, the AAP chief said, “A year-and-a-half ago, we planted 27 seeds in Gujarat and they are going to become strong trees.”
Vision for future
Explaining his vision for the country, Kejriwal said work was required to ensure education, health and employment for people, equal opportunity for women and girls, and world-class infrastructure for farmers.
Last month, the Delhi CM launched his ‘Mission to Make India number 1’ campaign. His five-point vision comprised free education; healthcare; employment; respect, dignity, equality and safety of women; and a fair price for farm crops.