Aam Aadmi Party national convener Arvind Kejriwal went on a three-day whirlwind tour of Punjab this week seeking people’s mandate for the upcoming assembly elections and convincing them that the AAP was the best replacement to the Akali-BJP regime. In an interview to HT, the Delhi chief minister talked on issues that ranged from the party’s chief ministerial candidate, his own name for Punjab CM to putting both the Badals and Captain Amarinder Singh to trial in corruption cases. Excerpts:
How do you view the Punjab election scenario as of now?
These elections will be fought against corruption and drugs. The wave is in our favour as we have promised a corruption-free and drug-free Punjab. I also appeal to the people to contribute financially as our party does not have money.
Akalis and the Congress say that the AAP is a party of outsiders. What is your take?
The Badals and Amarinder are saying so because they do not have anything else to counter us. The AAP is very much the party of Punjabis as you see the state’s own people running the show. Both Badal and Amarinder have looted the people and, thus, I am their common target.
Will you reopen corruption cases against the Badals and Amarinder?
I will put them to trial for corruption. Corrupt politicians of other parties will also face action.
Is your party going to announce a chief ministerial candidate or not?
It is not important for the people of Punjab right now. The people want to topple the present regime. They are not asking who would be the CM. They want to know how we will curb the drug menace and corruption.
There is a buzz that you will be projected as the CM candidate. Is that true?
There is no such discussion in the party right now. We are focusing on how to solve the problems of the people.
Punjab gave four MPs in 2014. Still the party failed to pick up a CM face. Why so?
We have many leaders who have the calibre to become the CM. Naming anyone won’t be appropriate at this juncture.
How do you see the dissidence in party over ticket distribution?
This happens in every party. It’s just media hype.
What is the fate of the inquiry panel against party’s sacked Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur? What you have to say about the sting on him?
He took money for tickets and he admitted this in front of Manish Sisodia and also apologised, saying he would not do this again. Inquiry does not matter now as he is already out of the party.
How was your experience with MPs Dr Dharamvira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa, who are yet to be removed from the AAP after their suspension? Do you want them back?
They are good men. I wish they come back after they cool down. They have to shed their personal grudges.
They said internal democracy is missing in the AAP.
The internal party democracy phrase has become common in every party now. When there is no other reason to fight, the dissidents take this plank.
Why was Gurpreet Singh Waraich, who joined the party this year only, was made the Punjab convener when you had old-timers working before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections?
It’s not a civil services batch that seniors would take top ranks. AAP is a party where the cadres are adjudged for their qualities and personality.
Why are you still not taking former Congress leader Jagmeet Brar into the party fold after his address from the AAP dais?
There is no such move from either his side or our side. It’s good he is supporting us and we can consider his inclusion into the party when the right time comes.
What is the AAP ideology?
The AAP believes in honest politics. BJP’s nationalism is ‘goonda nationalism’. If you are from the RSS, you can commit a rape or a murder and nobody will say anything to you. Law and order has collapsed in the country due to BJP’s faux nationalism.
How important is the dera factor in Punjab?
I don’t want to go into this. We don’t believe in using religion or caste for electoral gains.
What is your take on evacuation of villagers along the Punjab border after surgical strikes across the Line of Control?
I am for peace and open borders in the region, but it’s for the Union government to decide for the states to follow in case of disturbance at the border. I apprehend it was the Badal government’s move to evacuate villagers to divert people’s attention. There should be an inquiry into it.