Aam Aadmi Party (BJP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, who has been attacking Narendra Modi regularly, on Friday demanded a meeting with the Gujarat chief minister to discuss the issue of gas price and his claims of development in Gujarat but failed to get an appointment.
Clashes broke out between AAP and BJP workers across the country hours after Kejriwal was briefly detained by police in Gujarat. (HT photo/Arun Sharma)
He has also been questioning Modi from public platforms whether he supports the near doubling of the prices of natural gas from next month, the principal beneficiary of which would be Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).
The AAP leader has also accused Modi of being in "Ambani's pocket".
Accompanied by AAP leaders like Manish Sisodia, Kejriwal, who was in Gujarat for the last two days "inspecting" Modi's claims, drove to Gandhinagar on Friday morning to meet the chief minister, minutes after declaring his intent at a press meet.
Read: Jobs to farmers: Kejriwal's 17 questions to Narendra Modi
A file photo of AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal during his road show in Agra. (HT photo/Arvind Yadav)
His convoy was stopped near Sargasan village, some five km away from the chief minister's official residence, by the police who asked the AAP leader to seek an appointment with Modi.
Kejriwal's aide Sisodia, escorted by the police, immediately set off for Modi's house to seek an appointment. Sisodia met Modi's private secretary AK Sharma and was told that the Gujarat CM's schedule was packed for the day.
"Going to seek appointment from Modiji...," Sisodia tweeted after going to the CM's office.
"Met the PS, gave him request for appointment. He says Modiji will decide and we will be informed soon," he later tweeted.
Read: Kejriwal’s Gujarat roadshow, AAP’s Delhi protest violated model code of conduct: EC
Read: Kejriwal, supporters detained in Gujarat ahead of rally
Gandhinagar superintendent of police Sharad Singhal said, "Kejriwal's car was not stopped, but they stopped here. I took Sisodia to the chief minister's office, where he gave a written request. The response from the chief minister's office was that they will give a reply to them in two or three days."
Kejriwal, who later drove to the airport to catch a flight to Jaipur, complained that Modi has no time for a common man like him. He also said that Modi has not been answering questions except making speeches in public.
At the press meet in Ahmedabad earlier, Kejriwal said he would go to Modi with 16 questions, which would include tall claims on development in Gujarat, lack of educational and medical facilities in rural areas, why farmers' land were handed over to industrial houses at throwaway prices.
"Many of his claims are white lies," Kejriwal said, challenging Modi's development pitch.
"What is the development model that Modi keeps talking of? We will ask him this," Kejriwal said on Day 3 of his four-day road show across Gujarat.
The former Delhi CM also trained his guns on Modi over gas pricing, which he has made an issue in all his speeches so far.
"Modi should make his point clear on the issue of gas pricing," he said, adding, "Gujarat government has demanded that gas pricing should be $16. Earlier, the UPA government had given a go ahead to raise the price of gas from $4 to $8".
"People say that you have such close relations with Mukesh Ambani that you have made Ambani family's son-in-law a minister," Kejriwal alleged.
"You made Saurabh Patel a minister. By giving him portfolios like gas, petroleum, energy and minerals, in a way you allocated Gujarat's natural resources to Ambanis," Kejriwal alleged.
A file photo of AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal address media in Agra. (HT photo/Arvind Yadav)
The AAP leader also claimed that there was a high rate of unemployment in Gujarat.
"Recently, 13 lakh people applied for 1,500 posts of talati (accountant). This clearly shows that Gujarat has a high rate of unemployment," said Kejriwal.
On the issue of contractual job system in state-run units, the former Delhi chief minister held Modi responsible for exploitation of youths.
"Educated youths have been given adhoc jobs on a meagre salary of Rs. 5,300 per month. Who will be able to run his family in Rs. 5,300 per month?" he asked.
"It is the government's responsibility to give good education to poor. We have been in the villages to verify the educational facilities in rural area," said Kejriwal.
"Government-run schools are in a bad condition, health care is in shambles, farmers have been given less compensation for land acquired from them by government," he alleged.
He also alleged that the Gujarat government is purchasing solar power at the rate of Rs. 15 per unit, while the price elsewhere is Rs. 8 per unit.
"You are speaking white lies on the claims of development," the AAP leader alleged.
Kejriwal, who is leading the AAP's charge for the Lok Sabha polls, challenged Modi's claims of having done away with corruption in Gujarat.
"What has Modi done to get rid of corruption in the state?"
"Why you have included Babu Bokhiria as a minister who has been convicted in a mining scam with three years sentence and at present is on bail now?" he asked.
"Whereas another minister Purshottam Solanki, who has been convicted in Rs. 450 crore fisheries scam, is also a minister in your cabinet," Kejriwal said.
Meanwhile, a group of at least 175 suspected BJP members waved black flags and shouted anti-Kejriwal slogans at the spot where the former Delhi chief minister was waiting for the permission to meet Modi.
On the first day of his visit, Kejriwal and his supporters were briefly detained by the police at Radhanpur in north Gujarat. This led to tempers rising and saw AAP workers clash with BJP activists in Delhi and Lucknow.
On Thursday, Kejriwal admitted AAP workers had indulged in violence outside the BJP headquarters in Delhi. He apologised on behalf of his party workers and said the AAP would not repeat the mistake.
(With PTI inputs)