In a bid to expand its footprint in Punjab ahead of the 2022 assembly polls, Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced that the party's chief minister candidate in the state will be a local from the Sikh community.
Why will AAP project a local from the Sikh community as chief minister?
"It will be someone who the whole of Punjab feels proud of," said Kejriwal, addressing a press conference in Amritsar. "We feel it's the Sikh community's right," he added.
When asked who will be the CM's face of the party for the 2022 polls, Kejriwal said, "Discussions are going on in the party regarding this, when the time comes, you will be informed".
Kejriwal, who is the AAP national convener, asserted that the people of Punjab are fed up with the present leadership ruling the state and added that the state is looking for a new type of leadership.
Who joined AAP in Punjab today?
It was at the same event that former Punjab police officer Kunwar Vijay Pratap, who was part of the SIT probing the 2015 Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan police firing incidents, also joined the party after a day of speculation over the same.
In April, Singh took premature retirement after the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed a report by the SIT of Punjab Police into the firing incident. Later on, consequent to the orders of the high courts, the Punjab government constituted a new three-member SIT and directed it to complete the investigations within six months.
Kejriwal said that Singh was instrumental in exposing the "masterminds" behind the Bargari sacrilege case and the Kotkapura incident.
"However, the entire system ganged up against him. When he felt that nothing could be done while staying inside the system, he resigned. He left his job so that he could fight to deliver justice for the people of Punjab. I want to assure that once the AAP forms the government the 'masterminds' of Bargari sacrilege case will be punished," the AAP chief said.
Singh joined the party fold in presence of Kejriwal and other senior leaders including Raghav Chadha and AAP state unit chief and MP, Bhagwant Mann.
To a question on from where Kunwar Vijay Pratap will fight the polls, Kejriwal said it will be decided later.
Why Kejriwal is in Punjab?
The Delhi chief minister had been hinting at making inroads in the state's politics for a while now. On Sunday, he tweeted, "Punjab wants change. The only hope is the Aam Aadmi Party. See you tomorrow at Amritsar," without elaborating any further. Punjab AAP leaders also remained tightlipped about the induction of any leaders to the party at Amritsar.
This is Kejriwal's second visit to the state in nearly three months.
During his last visit in March, Kejriwal hit out at the Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government, accusing it of not keeping its poll promises and deceiving people.
"Captain Sahib had said smartphones will be given. Who got smartphones just raise your hands? Captain Sahib had said farmers' loan will be waived. Whose loan has been waived just raise your hands," he had said while addressing a Kisan Maha Sammelan organised by the AAP in Moga.
In the previous election in 2017, AAP was able to secure 20 out of 117 Assembly seats. The next elections are most likely to be held in the state in February or March 2022.
Asked if there have been any talks with Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Congress leader, who has been at loggerheads with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, the AAP leader said, "Sidhu is a Congress leader, a senior leader. I respect him a lot. So, I think there should be no loose talk regarding any leader."
To a question if there been any meeting with Sidhu, Kejriwal said, "If anything happens, you will be the first to know."
Why is Sidhu unhappy with Captain Amarinder Singh?
Meanwhile, the cricketer-turned-politician, who is at the centre of a raging rebellion in the ruling Punjab Congress since his exit from the Cabinet, hit out at Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh over handling of pandemic situation in the state.
Speaking to News18, Sidhu said, "People know that the state government is making a fool of them. They are selling COVID-19 vaccines worth Rs 400 for Rs 1600, people know everything."
With inputs from agencies