The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Thursday promised in its election manifesto that cases against Muslims will be decided within six months and police officials found guilty of harassment will be punished.
Devoting an entire section to “Security and non-discrimination of Muslims”, AAP pledged to end false cases against Muslim youth and improve quality of education in the community.
Aam Admi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal (C) poses with party officials as he releases his party election manifesto at a press conference in New Delhi, India. (Virendra Singh Gosain/HT Photo)
“Judicial reforms to ensure that cases are decided within six months,” was one of the main points of the section.
Muslims have emerged as a key constituency in a bitterly-fought election with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi appealing on Tuesday to Syed Ahmed Bukhari -- Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid – to ensure “secular” votes do not split.
Most parties mention measures for minority communities in their manifestos but don’t often single out Muslims in particular.
The AAP, in its manifesto, proposed major electoral reforms – lowering the minimum age of contesting in the Lok Sabha elections from 25 to 21, state funding of elections and the right to reject and recall elected representatives. It also will favour decriminalisation of homosexuality, supporting the Delhi High Court's 2009 decision on consensual gay sex.
The AAP came out strongly against FDI in retail with Kejriwal saying, “We are not against FDI in general but will not allow the FDI in retail.” The party also promised an abolition of contractual labour and a rise in minimum support price of crops that would be 50% more than the input cost.
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Keeping up the pitch on its pet issue of corruption, AAP promised the janlokpal bill with the PM and all Union ministers under its purview. The manifesto also mentioned the swaraj bill – giving sweeping powers to gram sabhas and mohalla sabhas – that will supervise government schools and health centres.
“Fighting corruption and devolution of power to gram sabhas and mohalla sabhas are the primary objective of our party,” said AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal.
The party maintained Kashmir is an integral part of India and said it had a zero-tolerance policy towards cross-border terrorism. Senior AAP leader Prashant Bhushan was embroiled in controversy earlier this year after he proposed a referendum in Kashmir on army deployment. The party also called for a review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
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On foriegn policy, the AAP leader said that his party advocated friendly relations with all the countries, but had "zero tolerance" for cross border terrorism. "We will work to reduce political hostilities in our immediate neighbourhood but we will have zero tolerance for cross border terrorism.
"Border areas should be developed as zones of high economic engagements to create a larger constituency for peace on both sides. We will work to enhance the defence capacity to deter the border incursions by China, but will also strive for a greater and more balanced trade with the country," he said.
Kejriwal added that the party will not only work to reduce the foriegn dependence in equipment, but also will also try to bring transparency in procurement of defence equipment.
With 426 candidates declared for the Lok Sabha polls, the 15-month-old AAP has shot ahead of major parties like the Congress (414), BJP (415) and SP (160).
Kejriwal will challenge Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in Varanasi and Kumar Vishwas aims to tackle Congress' Rahul Gandhi in his constituency Amethi.
While the Kejriwal-led party released its manifesto a week after Congress launched its poll document, the BJP will share its document on April 7.
(With inputs from PTI)
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