Muktsar: The Maghi Mela today proved to be an Aam Aadmi Party show with surging crowds at the party rally seemingly unnerving the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal. Even as the Congress and SAD dismissed AAP as a party of no consequence in Punjab, leaders of both the parties launched a vitriolic attack on AAP, and kept their focus on it during their speeches.
Enthused by the large turnout, a buoyant Arvind Kejriwal, AAP’s national convener, announced that Punjab was his party’s next stop after the conquest of Delhi last year. Donning a yellow turban, presented to him by Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, he said as of now the party was sure to win 100 of the 117 seats in Punjab, but with some effort, this number could rise.
Kejriwal did not name anyone as the CM candidate for the 2017 Assembly elections. He said he would be in Punjab for 15-20 days in March, visiting villages and towns.
In his 33-minute speech in Hindi, Kejriwal appealed to the people to end family politics. “Once a progressive state, Punjab is now on the brink of ruin. The Badals have destroyed it in 10 years. Known to feed the entire country, farmers are being pushed to suicide,” he said.
Accusing Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia of running a drug trade, Kejriwal assured the gathering that upon forming the government in Punjab, he would send Majithia to jail.
“The entire Punjab says Majithia is running the drugs trade, but the Badal government is not acting against him,” said Kejriwal.
Calling the Badals goons, Kejriwal said he did not fear them. “When Badals’ tau ji Modi could not harm me, despite a CBI raid on my office, why should I be afraid of the Badals? Some people fear that the Badals will lodge fake cases against them, but I tell you that they have just a year in office and we will cancel all fake cases after coming to power,” Kejriwal announced.
Each time he lashed out at the Badals, the applause was thunderous. “The Badals will be punished for their misdeeds and misrule. A probe commission will be set up to expose them and they will be sent to jail,” the AAP convener said.
Kejriwal started his speech with serious issues such as suicide by farmers, drugs, cancer, corruption, incidents of sacrilege, lawlessness and atrocities on Dalits.
“Badal and Capt Amarinder Singh are two sides of the same coin. They are eyeing the elections only to loot Punjab. Why did Capt Amarinder oppose the demand for a CBI probe against Majithia in the drugs case? What is his connection with the Badals? Why has he protected Majithia,” Kejriwal asked.
Greeting the people with “Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal,” he time and again referred to the sacrifices of the Sikh Gurus. On the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, he said: “Our government in Delhi gave Rs 5 lakh to each of the victim’s family. But the governments in the past have only played politics on the issue.”
Claiming that the Badals and Capt Amarinder were not ‘true’ Sikhs, he said: “A real Sikh sacrifices even his family for the welfare of others. Real Sikhs are in our party. They have sacrificed their careers to serve the people.” He took the names of Bhagwant Mann, Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Sanjay Singh and Ashutosh in this regard.
Kejriwal announced that the families of security personnel killed in the Pathankot terror attack would be given Rs 1 crore each within a month of the AAP forming the government in Punjab. He pledged to send to jail those behind incidents of sacrilege as well as those who had fired at unarmed protesters at Behbal Kalan village.
He announced to open a cancer hospital in Muktsar, if the AAP was voted to power.
AAP’s Punjab affairs in charge Sanjay Singh, against whom Revenue Minister Bikram Majithia has filed a defamation case in Ludhiana, said: “ I want to say that I am not afraid. I will continue my fight against Majithia and send him to jail.”
Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, in his 20-minute speech, spoke about rising unemployment. He accused the Badals of turning the state bankrupt and mortgaging properties to pay employees. Faridkot MP Prof Sadhu Singh, advocate HS Phoolka and former MLA Sukhpal Khaira also spoke.