New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party’s lack of a chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Punjab assembly elections was laid bare on Tuesday when senior party leader Manish Sisodia indicated Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal would head any AAP government in the state, only to retract later in the day in the face of criticism.
Sisodia was heard telling an election rally in Mohali that voters in Punjab should cast their votes, “assuming Kejriwal is your chief minister”. He further egged them on saying, “Your vote should be in the name of Kejriwal. Assume he is your chief ministerial candidate and vote for him.”
His statement almost coincided with former Punjab chief minister and senior Congress leader Amarinder Singh’s claim on a news channel that Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal wanted to “make a backdoor entry into Punjab politics”.
With the Congress and the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) playing the “insider-outsider” card against AAP – which they portray as a non-Punjab party – the two parties were quick to seize on Sisodia’s statement in order to rake up this emotive issue.
Within hours, however, Sisodia was quick to change tack.
On being questioned by reporters, he was quoted saying “Why are you asking me? MLAs will decide.” He added that “regardless of who becomes chief minister, I will say this: Punjab’s chief minister will be someone who will free the state of drugs and corruption.”
The issue also found resonance in Delhi with political parties here slamming AAP and its leadership for taking the city lightly.
Yogendra Yadav of Swarab Abhiyan was quick to react and tweeted his angst.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) January 10, 2017
Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari charged that it showed Kejriwal’s greed for power.
— Manoj Tiwari (@ManojTiwariMP) January 10, 2017
The BJP, Congress and other parties in Delhi are sure to use this issue to target Kejriwal, particularly because while taking the oath as Delhi’s chief minister for the second time on February 14, 2015 he had said: “AAP became arrogant and fought Lok Sabha elections from other states and was taught a lesson. I’m staying in Delhi for five years to work for the city.” The recent statements from his party leaders do not do justice to this assertion.