Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal led the final assault of his party by concluding his campaign for the Punjab assembly elections in the Hindu-dominated Ludhiana Central segment, on Thursday. The strategy was not lost on anyone, as the party has been beset with allegations of siding with Sikh radicals, particularly after Tuesday’s alleged terror blasts in Maur,Bathinda.
Earlier, at a press conference, he was visibly angry at a reporter’s question about his overnight stay at an ex-militant’s house in Moga. “Punjab ke logon ko aatankwadi kehna band karo; bakwas band karo! (Stop calling people of Punjab terrorists. Stop this nonsense!),” he thundered.
Waves report on sacrilege
However, he continued his tirade against the ruling SAD-BJP combine, particularly the Badals, over the issue of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in 2015. He waved what he claimed was a copy of the Zora Singh Commission report into the incidents and alleged that the Badal government had suppressed facts. he said he had procured the report — not made public yet but covered widely by media through sources last year — from a “well-wisher” on Wednesday night.
He dodged the question as to why he had not visited families of the Maur blast victims admitted in Ludhiana, he said party leader Sanjay Singh had visited them.
Later, he held a road show from Samrala Chowk to Jagraon Bridge, particularly seeking to woo traders and migrants, who in the shadow of the Bathinda bomb blasts are reportedly scared of return of militancy. Starting at 1.30 pm, he rode an open jeep with allies Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjeet Singh Bains of the Lok Insaaf Party. Accompanied by a cavalcade of 30-odd cars, 15 cycle rickshaws, and hundreds of supporters on foot as part of the crowd that went hysterical, Kejriwal waved to one and all.
Traders the target
Traders were on the slogan radar: “Niklo bahar dukaanon se, milo Arvind Kejriwal se” (Come out of your shops, and meet Arvind Kejriwal). The show passed through the city’s busiest and the congested Chaura Bazaar.
A song played on the loudspeakers targeting the Akalis went: “Chitta kurta, neeli pagg; rehen ni dena Badal thagg! (Wearing white kurta, blue turban, Badal the thug will not be spared!)”
Shopkeepers could be seen clicking selfies as Kejriwal’s vehicle passed by. Kejriwal was all smiles as he greeted voters with folded hands.
Sushma Batta, who works in a cycle manufacturing firm and was part of the roadshow, said she had come in support of the Bains brothers, and as they are in alliance with the AAP her vote will “naturally” be with Kejriwal. “I am no fan of Kejriwal, but the Bains brothers have really worked for us,” she said.
Anil Goyal, owner of a cloth shop, said he came out to witness the enthusiasm but his vote is with the Congress. “AAP is only playing negative politics,” he said.
The roadshow then moved in front of the Ludhiana railway station, bringing traffic to a halt. Even the vehicles belonging to AAP supporters had a tough time wading through the traffic as those on foot clogged the road. At Jagraon Bridge, just after 4pm, Kejriwal and the Bains brothers garlanded to the statues of martyrs Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.
Earlier in the day, Kejriwal addressed a rally in Dakha where he made an attempt to woo the rural electorate.