Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal cautioned Punjab’s Dalit communities about Congress leader Capt Amarinder Singh’s recent statement seeking reservation for the poor among general categories.
“Captain saab recently said caste-based reservation shouldn’t be there, but quota should be given only on the basis of economic capacity. I want all Dalits of Punjab to hear and understand,” Kejriwal told HT in a special interview on Friday.
Kejriwal, who kick-started his five-day tour to the poll-bound state on Thursday, was travelling in the heart of Malwa, the nerve centre of Punjab and its politics.
When corrected that Amarinder had not expressly said that quota shouldn’t be based on caste, Kejriwal replied, “But quota overall can’t be over 50% anyway, so someone’s quota has to be reduced to give it to someone else. It’s understandable who will lose in that case.”
The Delhi chief minister also met the family of Bhim Sain, a Dalit man from Abohar who was brutally murdered at the farmhouse of Akali halqa in-charge and liquor baron Shiv Lal Doda alias Sholly.
BJP state secretary Sandeep Rinwa was already present at Bhim’s house and questioned Kejriwal’s visit. But the Delhi CM left him to other AAP colleagues such as Bhagwant Mann and Sanjay Singh, and later announced that the Delhi government would provide a job to the next of kin of Bhim.
Kejriwal added that Gurjant, another Dalit youth who was injured in the farmhouse attack, be sent to Delhi where the state government would ensure he got the best available treatment.
“I have already called up my health minister to make arrangements. We will do more when we come to power in Punjab,” he added, accusing the SAD-BJP government of trying to weaken the case.
Bhim’s cousin, Gopi Chand, convener of a local committee formed to seek strict action against Sholly and his men arrested for the crime, underlined that Dalits would not forgive the Badal sarkar.
“We are 34% (actually Dalits form about 32%) of Punjab’s population. We will decide who becomes CM, who will rule Punjab. We want Sholly to be hanged. Remember, the one who pulls the lever (the undertaker) is also from our biradari (community).”
Chand alleged that he had been offered money by a local acolyte of an Akali minister even ahead of Kejriwal’s visit to remain quiet.
Meanwhile, Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh said that AAP convener had distorted the former’s statement on the reservation issue, clarifying that he meant reservations also for economically weaker sections instead of only for the poor.
“Kejriwal has only vindicated his stand that he (Kejriwal) is a congenital liar who lies shamelessly without any remorse,” Amarinder said in a statement here.
Amarinder said Kejriwal was “deliberately telling a lie” that if economically weaker sections from the general castes were provided reservations, these would be taken away from the SC/ST/OBC quota.