The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday announced to launch Punjab Dialogue, a 150-day-long programme, from March 15, under which party leaders will engage rural people in preparing the blueprint of the election manifesto.
Under this initiative, which is being started on the lines of the Delhi Dialogue, AAP has identified 10 core sections of society who will be engaged in the first phase of this exercise, to be completed by August 15. This move, according to party leaders, is an attempt to do away with the usual practice of releasing manifestos without taking feedback from the electorate about their problems and aspirations. During the five-month-long exercise, AAP activists will hold discussions in each assembly segment with farmers, youth, women, traders, industrialists, ex-servicemen, labourers, professionals, NRIs and government employees. The election manifesto will be prepared on the basis of issues flagged in these intensive interactions.
“Our focus will be on knowing what people want on issues such as farmer suicides, drugs, unemployment, corruption, law and order, health, education, land mafia, mining mafia, cable mafia, liquor mafia and transport mafia,” Ashish Khetan, journalist-turned-AAP politician, said at a press conference here.
After taking feedback at the grassroots level, the same exercise will be held in urban areas in the second phase. “The comprehensive manifesto will be launched on August 15,” said Khetan, who was flanked by Punjab party affairs incharge Sanjay Singh.
The manifesto, AAP leaders said, would also focus on government debt. Responding to a question, the leaders said there could not be scarcity of funds, provided the government was run with honesty.
Targets Cong, SAD
Accusing the Congress and the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) of turning politics into a trade, AAP leader Sanjay Singh asked: “Why has Parkash Singh Badal been sitting over the Ludhiana city centre scam for the past eight years? Why is he (Badal) saving Amarinder?”
The AAP leader added: “Ladne aaya hun Punjab beimano se, darne nahin (I have come to Punjab to fight corrupt people, not to get frightened).”
He alleged that even a councillor was worth several crores in Punjab. “What are their sources of income? In Delhi, we have drastically brought down the cost of construction. For example, a dispensary was built for Rs 20 lakh, while its sanctioned construction cost was Rs 1.25 crore. Similarly, a bridge was constructed at a cost half of the approved budget. This is how money is saved,” Sanjay said.