Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal apologised at the Golden Temple on Monday morning for gaffes by that party that included equating a manifesto with the Guru Granth Sahib and printing its symbol, the broom, on the cover of the document alongside a picture of the holiest Sikh shrine.
Kejriwal performed ‘sewa’ (service) by washing utensils at the langar ghar (community kitchen) for 45 minutes.
The Delhi chief minister was accompanied by senior party leadership including Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Sanjay Singh, H.S. Phoolka. Lok Sabha MP Bhagwant Mann and spokesperson Sukhpal Khaira.
“While releasing the manifesto, we inadvertently made some mistakes. To repent for those mistakes, we performed sewa today. We also paid obeisance at the Golden Temple. We felt at peace after performing sewa,” Kejriwal said after spending around two hours inside the shrine.
The party is looking to do well in next year’s Punjab polls, trouncing the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine that has been hit by a wave of protests recently and the Congress that is hoping a victory in the state will reverse a nationwide electoral downslide.
Kejriwal has drawn impressive crowds in his rallies and all four of the party’s Lok Sabha MPs come from the state but the controversy over the unpopular Guru Granth Sahib comparisons has hurt the party in recent weeks.
Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Ashish Khetan who equated the manifesto with the Guru Granth Sahib in his speech during the release function on July 3, also performed sewa along with Kejriwal.
The Delhi chief minister reached the shrine at 3:47 am amid tight security cover. Punjab Police teams deployed at the Golden Temple Plaza immediately took him in their security ring and kept him under cover right through his visit.
After entering the shrine from the main gate, Kejriwal went to langar ghar and started washing utensils. Other AAP leaders also performed sewa with Kejriwal. He then went to the parikarma and sat for for 30 minutes with party leaders and workers before heading to pay obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum at about 5 am.
He and the party leaders chose to go inside the sanctum sanctorum like ordinary pilgrims and did not opt for the VIP entry that is normally used by high profile visitors.
The media was not allowed by the SGPC men and some of them were seen pushing away camera crews which tried to take pictures of Kejriwal.
The Delhi CM did not answer any questions. Neither did Khetan, who has been booked by Amritsar Police after a complaint from the All India Sikh Students Federation about the manifesto.