The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief, Arvind Kejriwal, scotched speculation on Wednesday that he is in the race for the top job in Punjab, saying his party will make a state’s native the chief minister if his party wins the February 4 assembly polls.
Speculation swirled after his deputy, Manish Sisodia, told people in Mohali on Tuesday that they should vote assuming that it is to make Kejriwal the chief minister.
Political rivals — the Congress and ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) — latched on to the Delhi deputy chief minister’s remarks, alleging that the AAP was trying to foist an “outsider” to head the government if it comes to power.
“Who says the CM will be from outside the state? The Punjab CM will be from Punjab only,” said Kejriwal, the Delhi chief minister whose AAP has emerged as a major force in its debut Punjab assembly elections.
Then he said: “Whosoever will be the Punjab chief minister, it will be my personal responsibility that all promises made by AAP are fulfilled.”
Kejriwal’s party is seeking to wrest power from the BJP-SAD combine that has been at the helm for two terms. The Congress too is in the fray.
Kejriwal said party colleague Sisodia’s remarks have been misinterpreted.
“(Chief minister Parkash Singh) Badal and Captain Amarinder Singh have been saying that Punjab’s CM should be from the state. I will take on the Badals and Amarinder after AAP’s victory and recover every penny of the people’s money they have looted over the years,” he said, addressing a rally 30km from Patiala.
The AAP chief promised that Punjab’s development will be his party’s priority.
“We have prepared a blueprint of 150 projects if we form a government here,” he said and promised to tackle one the state’s topmost problems — drug abuse.
Sisodia’s statement came against the backdrop of rivals accusing the AAP’s central leadership of trying to run its Punjab unit from Delhi.
But the party dismissed the allegations, saying he was only seeking votes in Kejriwal’s name.
Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, who is shouldering the Congress campaign, alleged that Kejriwal has sought to become the Punjab chief minister without contesting elections.
The Akali Dal too made similar remarks, saying Punjabis will never tolerate “outsider” Kejriwal as their chief minister.
(with agency inputs)