The Delhi chief minister said that Aam Aadmi Party’s Punjab chief ministerial candidate will be a local MLA.
Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday stated that the next chief minister of Punjab would “be a local MLA,” and that he cannot take the position as the people of Delhi have bestowed a responsibility upon him. By doing so the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader has tried to silence his opponents in the wake of deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia’s statement that the voters in Punjab should assume Kejriwal to be their next chief minister.
A day after the media went abuzz with Sisodia’s speech in Mohali in which he urged voters in Punjab to cast their votes “assuming Kejriwal is your chief minister” and egged them on by saying, “your vote should be in the name of Kejriwal, assume he is your chief ministerial candidate and vote for him,” Kejriwal denied any plans of quitting his job in Delhi to run for the top office in Punjab.
Kejriwal told the Times of India that the next chief minister of Punjab will be a local MLA. “Punjab chief minister can’t be from Pakistan or London or France. He will be from this state only,” he said.
He also indicated that he would not be running away from his responsibilities towards the people of Delhi. “I am the chief minister of Delhi. The people of Delhi have given me a responsibility, therefore I cannot be Punjab CM. But, I will owe full responsibility for every promise made by AAP.”
Even as the AAP leader put an end to the speculations that he would be running for the top office in Punjab, his two major opponents in the state, the Congress and the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), have jumped on to Sisodia’s statement to proclaim that Kejriwal was hungry for power.
While Punjab Congress president and former chief minister Amarinder Singh charged that “Kejriwal has finally exposed his obsessive and abominable lust for Punjab’s chief ministerial position,” the Akalis, who are battling heavy anti-incumbency, tried to depict it in another light.
The party spokesperson Prem Singh Chandumajra said, “It is the first time in the history of Punjab that Punjabis are facing outsiders.. the fight between the Punjabis and non-Punjabis has become clear after the party’s decision to announce Kejriwal as a chief ministerial candidate.”
In fact, both the Congress and the Akalis have questioned the AAP’s intention to this end. Even though the AAP has prominent individuals for the chief minister’s post in the state – like MP Bhagwant Mann, senior Delhi lawyer H.S. Phoolka, Himmat Singh Shergill, Kanwar Sandhu and Sukhpal Singh Khaira – it has not projected any as its chief ministerial candidate.
In such a scenario, many political pundits believe that the AAP’s best chances in the state are in going without projecting anyone as its chief ministerial candidate, least of all a non-Punjabi. They cite the example of the Amritsar constituency in the Lok Sabha election – union minister Arun Jaitley had lost to Amarinder in the midst of the Modi-wave because the constituency had never elected a non-Sikh. If despite being a Punjabi, Jaitley could not sail through, the message from some parts of the state remains clear – non-Punjabis do not stand a chance in the state.