Ahead of Gujarat assembly elections, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday launched an initiative for people to select party's chief ministerial candidate.
Kejriwal and other AAP leaders such as Manish Sisodia and Bhagwant Mann have been campaigning intensively in Gujarat in recent months. The party is looking to embarrass the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state and it has made a slew of populist promises in the run-up to the polls.
Kejriwal on Saturday said that the party would announce their Gujarat CM candidate on November 4 on the basis of the opinion of the people.
"Today, I would like to ask the people of Gujarat as to who they want to see as the next CM of Gujarat. To know the opinion of the public, we are releasing a number — 6357000360. You can send SMS, WhatsApp messages, and leave voice messages. We are also releasing e-mail — email@example.com," said Kejriwal.
The deadline to submit nominations is 5 pm on November 3.
Kejriwal also targeted the ruling BJP for replacing former Chief Minister Vijay Rupani with Bhupendra Patel, and said it was done without asking the people of the state. He said that by removing Rupani from the post, the BJP admitted that there was something wrong and that he had shortcomings.
"Was he removed because he was corrupt or inefficient? Why was he removed? He was removed a year ago. When Rupani was brought, they did not ask the public. They keep changing the chief minister without asking the public," said Kejriwal.
Such a practice is not followed in AAP, where the party asks people to decide as to who they want to see as their chief minister, he added.
"During the Punjab elections, we had asked people as to who should be the next chief minister. People named Bhagwant Mann by a huge majority. And as per the wishes of the public, we announced his name," said Kejriwal.
Winning Gujarat is an issue of prestige for the BJP as the state is the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was also as Gujarat CM that Modi prepared the groundwork for his rise to the post of the Prime Minister of India. Therefore, by springing an embarrasment in Gujarat, the AAP is looking to hurt the prestige of BJP and Modi.
AAP, known for its populist promises, has also made announceemnts for Gujarat. Some of the promises are:
- A monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 to all women
- Free electricity up to 300 units to each family
- Rs 3,000 per month to unemployed youths
- Implementation of the Constitution's Fifth Schedule and the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act in tribal regions of Gujarat
Not just AAP but the Congress party has also made populist promises in Gujarat ahead of elections. Some of the promises are:
- Loan waiver of up to Rs 3 lakh to farmers
- LPG cylinder at Rs 500 instead of Rs 1,000
- Free electricity to farmers and up to 300 units of free power to general consumers
- Rs 5 per litre subsidy to milk producers
(With PTI inputs)