February 18, 2020
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'Forget Surveys, AAP Will Get 100 Seats'

The Delhi chief minister and AAP national convener on why his party, though new in Punjab politics, is looking for clear majority.

'Forget Surveys, AAP Will Get 100 Seats'
Photograph by Prabhjot Singh Gill
'Forget Surveys, AAP Will Get 100 Seats'

Pre-poll surveys say the AAP is number two or three in Punjab. What’s your  prediction?

Most of the media is corrupt now. I don’t think any ‘survey’ is being conducted. These are all being faked. The media makes crores (of rupees) during elections. To publish incorrect and fake surveys is criminal. We will take this up.

We should get 100 (of the 117) seats. They were saying we are weak in Majha region, but not any longer. There’s an upsurge for us. It is going to be uniform (support) for the AAP.

A few weeks ago, the Congress wasn’t talked about as much, but now it has come back in towns, even villages. Is the AAP slipping?

I don’t agree. It’s the Cong­ress that is sliding. We, in fact, dominate rural areas, which form 70 per cent of Punjab’s population. Among cities, Patiala is entirely voting for us. Jallandhar too, so is Amritsar.

The people of Punjab have tried both Akali Dal and Congress. AAP alone is convincing for them now. They know, from relatives, what we all have done in Delhi.

Patiala too?

Yes, yes, even many journalists have surveyed it in the last two weeks. They have distinctly noticed that the AAP is what people are talking about.

There is another tendency in rural Punjab: avid support for the Akali Dal. Jat Sikhs, it is said, will back the Akali symbol. The panthic (faith-based), too, support the Akali Dal.

The AAP talks only about one thing: truth and honesty. That touches the heart of everybody—Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Christian. We are honest and that shows in our body language, in what we say. That’s what people like about us.

There are strong rumours about the AAP sympathising with separatists, that you stayed at the house of a ‘separatist’s’ relative.

This is complete nonsense. The house I stayed in has three flats. In one lives an SHO of Punjab Police, in one a joint commissioner of the local municipal corporation and in the third, our volunteer—my host. If it is a terrorist’s house, how come a joint commissioner and station house officer live there?

What will you consider your ‘success’ in Punjab?

We will consider ourselves successful after the election results are out. We’d start running the government and fulfil our promises; that will be our success.

What are your promises?

We have to wipe drugs out of Punjab. Also corruption, waive loans of farmers, resolve traders’ problems, provide jobs to youth.

All parties make similar promises...

The difference lies in what promises are beli­eved. We have done what we said we would do. In Punjab, whoever talks about us says two things. First, that they have tried both parties (Akali Dal and Congress) and now only the AAP feels convincing to them. Second, they say that they have spoken to their relatives who live in Delhi. And those relatives have told them what all we have done in Delhi. Delhi’s example is speaking for itself in our favour.

So the AAP needs a majority in Punjab, or you won’t be able to showcase your work?

Yes, we want to demonstrate the corruption-free government we spoke of during the Anna Hazare movement. In Delhi, we achieved this to the extent within our control. The rest they (Centre) did not let us do. In Punjab, they will not be able to put roadblocks in our way. We will bring an end to corruption here. All Punjab’s problems are ultimately related to corruption. There is nasha because they (Akalis) want to make money. There’s crime because there is corruption. Industries fled Punjab beca­use of a monthly ‘goonda tax’...

Yet the discourse in Punjab is only getting vit­iated. Even you said, on the NRI issue, that you’ll show the Congress its ‘aukat’...

How can Amarinder Singh (Congress’ CM candidate) say NRIs would not be allowed to enter Punjab even for relatives’ last rites? Is he now calling all NRIs separatists when he says this?

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