The battle for votes seems to have begun in poll-bound Gujarat where Legislative Assembly Elections are expected to take place in December this year. And the Aam Aadmi Party seems ready to face the ruling BJP. As part of its poll outreach in Gujarat, the Aam Aadmi Party has been trying to woo Dalits in a presumable bid to increase its vote share. During a recent townhall held in Ahmedabad on Sunday, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP's national convener invited a Dalit sanitation worker and his family from Gujarat to his residence in the national capital for a meal.
During the town hall, which was being conducted with sanitation workers predominantly from the Dalit community, a participant named Harsh Solanki said he saw Kejriwal recently accept a dinner invitation from an autorickshaw driver during his town hall in Ahmedabad, and sought to know if the latter would come to his home for a meal.
Kejriwal told Solanki he would visit his house for a meal during his next trip to Ahmedabad, and at the same time, extended an invitation to the latter and his kin to come to his Delhi home to break bread.
The townhall came ahead of Union Home Minister Amit Shah's visit to Gujarat to engage with farmers.
Dinner with Kejriwal
Solanki said he was glad to see Kejriwal coming to the Dalit community, something he claimed no other leader had done since Independence.
"Looking at you we feel hopeful that someone is standing for us. And sir, I would like to make a request. Will you come to visit the house of a Dalit like you went to the house of an autorickshaw driver during you visit here 15-20 days back," he asked.
In reply, Kejriwal said, "I have seen that every leader visits the house of a Dalit for a meal to show off. Till today, no leader has invited a Dalit to his house for a meal. Will you come to my house to have food together," he asked and Solanki promptly accepted.
On being asked about his kin by the Delhi CM, Solanki said he lives with his brother, sister and parents, after which the former said he would send plane tickets to Delhi for all five.
"You and your family will have food together on Monday in the house of the Delhi chief minister. Whenever I am in Ahmedabad next, I will visit your home," Kejriwal said.
On the occasion, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said Solanki and his kin will be lodged in Punjab Bhavan during their visit to the national capital. Kejriwal also accepted the invitation to name a library run by Dalit children near the venue of the townhall.
In his latest visit to poll-bound Gujarat, Kejriwal addressed a gathering of youth with his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann and later town hall meetings with outsourced and contractual employees and sanitation workers in Ahmedabad where he promised the creation of 10 lakh jobs and the implementation of 'equal work, equal pay' if AAP forms a government.
Addressing the gathering, Kejriwal said the office of a Congress leader has photographs of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, while the office of a BJP leader has a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"When you go to the office of an AAP leader, you will not see the photographs of Kejriwal or Mann, but of Babasaheb Ambedkar. AAP is the only party moving on the path shown by Ambedkar. Babasaheb's dream was not fulfilled in the last 75 years, but I have pledged to fulfill his dream," he said.
This is not the first time that Kejriwal has appealed to Ambedkar's legacy in his poll campaigns. Ahead of the Punjab elections, Kejriwal had urged people to remember Ambedkar while voting in next month's assembly polls and said he "worships" the leader.
BJP Woos Farmers
While AAP is trying to beseech the Bahujan community, the BJP seems to be focusing its energies on farmers. Union Home Minister Amit Shah is on a two-day visit to Gujarat from Monday where he will participate in a host of programmes including a farmers' conference in Ahmedabad.
He will also lay the foundation stones for a hospital at Sanand in Ahmedabad district and a lake beautification project in Ahmedabad, attend a farmers' conference at Bavla in Ahmedabad district and inaugurate an overbridge on SP Ring Road here, a primary health centre at Sanand and an office of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.
Farmers from Shah's Gandhinagar parliamentary constituency are organising the "Rin Sweekar Sammelan" (gratitude acceptance conference) to express gratitude for providing irrigation facilities in 164 villages, the release said.
"Farmers had been demanding irrigation water supply for a long time. Shah, as the parliamentarian, recommended a permanent solution to the problems of these farmers after which the Gujarat government included 164 villages under the Fatewadi-Kharikat irrigation project," the release added.
(With inputs from PTI)