Addressing his first public rally since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) formed a government in Punjab, AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal lashed out at the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in Gujarat on Sunday, mocking it for “creating a world record in paper leaks” and criticizing the “derelict condition of schools and hospitals” in the state. He also challenged the ruling party saying that the AAP would defeat it in the upcoming Assembly polls to be held later this year.
Kejriwal was addressing a tribal gathering in Chanderia village in Bharuch district’s Valia on Sunday, where the party announced an alliance with Chhotubhai Vasava’s Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) and urged the people of Gujarat to “break the arrogance of the BJP” by voting the AAP into power.
Speaking from the dais of the Adivasi Mahasammelan and flanked by AAP leaders Gopal Italia, Isudan Gadhvi, Indranil Rajyaguru, and BTP supremo Chhotubhai along with his son and BTP president Mahesh Vasava, who is also the MLA from Dediapada, Kejriwal dared the BJP to call early polls, as was being speculated in political circles.
“I have heard speculations that Gujarat elections will happen early because they (BJP) are scared of the AAP… We have formed two governments in Delhi and one recently in Punjab, and now it is the turn of Gujarat… They (BJP) feel that if they give us time till December, Gujarat will turn towards AAP. But I am telling you I am a fakkad (poor happy person), I only have the hand of God and the support of the people… You (BJP) can conduct elections now or six months later, I will defeat you,” Kejriwal asserted .
He told the audience, consisting largely of tribal people from Bharuch and Narmada districts, that a chance encounter with a BJP on his flight from New Delhi to Surat showed the “arrogance” of the party. “I met a BJP leader on my flight, I asked him why you couldn’t work in Gujarat for 27 years. He said why do we need to work, people are giving us the votes anyway. He told me that the Congress leaders here are in the pocket of the BJP and they (BJP) don’t even need to fight elections… I realised, they are filled with so much arrogance, so much pride. I want to tell you all Gujarat voters to break their arrogance just once. Give us just one chance only to break their arrogance and you can throw us out the next time…,” the AAP chief said.
Kejriwal also mocked the education sector in Gujarat, enlisting the alleged exam paper leak incidents since 2017. “The Gujarat BJP has created a bizarre world record in exam paper leaks. They have broken all world records in paper leaks… I have heard that the Guinness Book Record officials held a meeting yesterday and they are going to add the BJP’s name in the list of maximum paper leaks… There is even a paper leak of Class VII in this list,” he added.
Kejriwal further said that the AAP government changed the fortunes of government schools in Delhi in seven years in such a way that four lakh students had enrolled in government schools in the current academic year. “I heard that education is in a bad state in Gujarat… The BJP government, which has been here for 27 years, has shut down 6,000 government schools in the name of mergers. The government schools are in a dilapidated condition… some have no teachers or one teacher for eight classes… The AAP can change this… We have done this in Delhi and restored the glory of the schools…, we can do this here,” he said .
“This year, four lakh children have shifted from primary schools to government schools including the children of top lawyers, doctors and officials. On one bench in any government school in Delhi, children of judges, officers, and auto drivers can sit and study together… This was the dream of Babasaheb Ambedkar, which I have pledged to turn into reality. Delhi schools have recorded 99.7% results this year – the best in the country.”
He also invited the Gujarat Chief Minister to visit New Delhi for a guided tour of government schools and hospitals. “When they heard that I am coming here, the BJP started spreading viral messages that Kejriwal’s schools are in a run-down condition. But I am inviting Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel to come and see our schools, hospitals, and clinics… Find facts before spreading lies… The BJP has been in power for 27 years in Gujarat, they have turned the schools into a sorry state. If you give them five more years, Gujarat will not improve. They are here only to loot you. Give me five years and if I don’t repair your schools in five years, you can kick me out of Gujarat… Think about the future of your children and imagine what it can be five years from now.”
Kejriwal also emphasized that he wanted to forge “bonds of the heart” with the people of Gujarat. “People in Delhi love me a lot… Today, I have come here to ask for love from the people of Gujarat. I have heard that the people of Gujarat are emotional and think through their hearts… If they (Gujaratis) love someone, they love them for their entire life. Kejriwal is also a person who works from the heart, is very emotional and loves for a lifetime. I have come here to forge a relationship of hearts. I don’t know how to steal, forge, indulge in corruption… because I am an educated person, who can only work,” he said.
“This is my first public rally after winning the Punjab Assembly polls and it is in a tribal area… Tribals have faced injustice… first the British exploited tribals then our own people oppressed them… even for a simple roti… The irony is that two of the country’s richest people come from Gujarat and the poorest tribals also come from Gujarat – from Dahod, Chhota Udepur, Aravalli and Dang districts… The BJP and Congress are standing with the rich and making them richer… But the AAP, Kejriwal, and Chhotubhai are standing with the poor, with you.”
Stating that the only measure of a “corruption-free government” could be the free utilities that it can provide the people, Kejriwal lashed out at the BJP for maligning the image of the AAP. “Today, the costliest power is being supplied in Gujarat, but electricity is free in Delhi. How is Delhi getting free electricity? Because Delhi has a corruption-free government. I don’t allow people to siphon off money, nor do I do it. The BJP abuses me saying, ‘Kejriwal makes everything free’. I am honest, that is why I am doing it. You (BJP) are not honest so you are not doing it. The criteria for deciding if a government is corruption-free or not to see if the government is giving free electricity… If you vote the AAP into power in Gujarat, you will have electricity, water and medical services free just like Delhi.”
Citing examples from Delhi’s citizen service system, Kejriwal said that the people of Delhi do not visit government offices even for “the smallest of works” but government officers visit their doorstep to attend to the requests of citizens. Promising that Gujarat would have the same AAP-model of governance, Kejriwal said, “If you want dirty politics, corruption, and gundagardi (hooliganism), then please vote for the BJP. But I am an educated person… The BJP did all that they could do to press me down… They conducted inquiries against me through the CBI, ED, IT but they could not find anything. That is because I am a kattar imandar (absolutely honest) and kattar desh bhakt… Today, I am here before you and lashing out at them because they were not able to find a pin against me… AAP is a party of such educated people. ”
Taking a pot shot at the Gujarat BJP for choosing a party president from Maharashtra in CR Paatil, Kejriwal urged “good leaders” from the Congress and BJP to shift to the AAP. “Is it not an insult to 6.5 crore Gujarati people that the BJP needed a leader from Maharashtra to run this party in the state? The voters must avenge this insult… Congress is over too, so it is a waste to vote for them… I am appealing to the good leaders of the Congress to shift to the AAP and we will work together. I also want to tell the BJP leaders, it is time to change Gujarat. The good BJP leaders, please come over to AAP and we will work together. Those who have vested interests, please stay where you are.”
Earlier, Kejriwal arrived at the venue for chants of Bharat Mata ki Jai, Inquilab Zindabad and Birsa Munda Zindabad. Together with the Vasavas and other AAP leaders, Kejriwal garlanded a statue of tribal leader Birsa Munda and dressed up in a tribal jacket and shawl as part of his on-dais filicitation.
In his address, Chhotubhai Vasava said, “The AAP has come to support us tribals in our fight for good governance… what is the need to re-elect a government that has wiped off education from the state… keep your vote safe and elect the AAP. The BJP and Congress are out to wipe out the identity of the tribal population… Only if we get power, we will be able to survive… So we have given Arvindji a list of 14 important issues and he has promised to look into them.
Expressing confidence that the AAP-BTP combine will form a government in Gujarat, Mahesh Vasava said, “Despite having thousands of dams that displaced tribal populations, the tribal belt from Ambaji to Umargaon receives not a single drop of drinking water. There is anger among the people… What happened in Punjab, should happen in Gujarat… The BJP has ruled for 27 years and there is so much pain among us. The BJP and Congress do not know Tiger Zinda Hai… they have troubled us so much but it is now our time.”
BTP was earlier in an alliance with the Congress. However, in the Gujarat local body polls held earlier this year, it formed a fresh alliance with the AIMIM. Last month, the Vasavas had met Kejriwal in New Delhi.