After meeting his MLAs and councillors with the question of whether he should resign if arrested or run the government from jail, AAP convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday met the party’s volunteers, office bearers, and Members of Parliament at the city’s Thyagaraj Stadium. Along with Kejriwal, Aam Aadmi Party’s Delhi ministers and MPs were on the stage.
In the first meeting with the MLAs after the chief minister received the Enforcement Directorate’s notice asking him to appear before it on November 2, the legislators had urged Kejriwal not to resign. The councillors also expressed a similar opinion in a separate meeting, with the decision that the party will conduct a “referendum” in Delhi on whether, if arrested, the Delhi chief minister should resign or govern from jail.
“We are not scared of going to jail. Jail is as sacred for us as it is for a revolutionary. I have already spent 15 days in jail. Arrangements are quite all right. If you are jailed, don’t worry. If Bhagat Singh can stay in jail, Manish Sisodia can stay in jail for nine months, Satyendar Jain can stay in jail for one year, what issue can I have if jailed? Being jailed does not make a difference to me. However, there is a question in front of us. We do not have a lust for power. I had resigned after 49 days. No one resigns from even a chowkidar’s job. No one had asked for my resignation. I think I am the first chief minister who resigned after 49 days. I don’t have any lust for the chief minister’s chair. However, we have to watch against being trapped by their conspiracy. I have already discussed this with all MLAs…yesterday, I met the councillors, and today with all the volunteers on the question of whether I should resign or run the government from jail. Now, I am giving you a responsibility. The citizens of Delhi have given us a lot of love and we will not do anything against their will. You will have to go to every household, conduct nukkad sabhas, and ask the people what should be done,” the AAP supremo facing the threat of possible arrest told the party’s rank and file.
He went on to remind them of the first time when AAP as a political party had turned to the people. “Remember when we had won 28 seats and we had asked the people whether we should take the support of the Congress? When these people gave the go-ahead, we took their support. We are standing at a crossroads, the party is standing at a crossroads. You have to go to the people, reach every nook and cranny of Delhi, and ask the people whether I should resign or run the government from jail. The will of the people is our command,” said Kejriwal.
Going a step further, the AAP chief sounded the bugle for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. “Understand that the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections has started from here. You have to go to each household and conduct nukkad sabhas and expose the BJP. Whether I will be behind bars or outside, this time the BJP should not win even a single Lok Sabha seat,” he said. “I want to congratulate all workers and office bearers for you are part of the world’s fastest-growing party, not just that of the country.”
Kejriwal added that in the meeting with the councillors, he pointed out that a lifetime passes before one can become an MLA or a councillor and this barely ten-year-old party formed a government in Delhi with a massive majority of 67 seats, reducing the Congress to zero and the BJP to just three. Then, the party formed the government in Punjab, again with a massive majority of 92 out of 117 seats. In Gujarat, in their (BJP’s) den, AAP won 14% of the votes and five MLAs. “I am absolutely confident that AAP will form the next government in Gujarat,” he said. In Goa, the party contested elections winning two seats. Now, AAP is a national party and ranks number three behind the BJP and Congress, out of approximately 1,350 registered political parties in India.
“The pace at which the party is growing, my heart says that one day we will leave BJP and Congress behind and form the government in the country,” Kejriwal told cheering party workers and supporters, adding that, therefore, “naturally, there will be big conspiracies hatched against you”.
Building his case, Kejriwal alleged that since AAP has won successive assembly elections in the capital since 2013 and most recently the MCD elections, the BJP understands that it cannot defeat the party in the national capital. “Whatever they may do in Delhi, they will not be able to defeat us in Delhi, and therefore they have hatched the conspiracy of ‘sharab ghotala’ (liquor scam),” the chief minister said. “I want to ask you whether sharab ghotala is happening in Delhi or is it happening in Gujarat where so many people have died after consuming spurious liquor. We hear regularly that 100 people have died, 50 people, or 150 people have died after consuming spurious liquor. Ghotala is happening there not here.” He quoted newspaper reports of a liquor scam in Haryana and asked again, what is the “sharab ghotala” in Delhi? Further, he quoted observations of judges in the Supreme Court where the prosecution was repeatedly questioned on the evidence and one judge had even said that the case would fall flat within two minutes during trial.
The Delhi chief minister told party workers that “under the garb of this fake liquor scam, they have arrested Sanjay Singh, Satyendar Jain, Manish Sisodia, Vijay Nair, and now, they are about to arrest me. Their aim is to somehow arrest the top leadership of AAP and destroy our government and the party. This is how Narendra Modiji wants to form his government in Delhi. He knows that he cannot defeat us in the elections.”
Kejriwal dared the Prime Minister, saying that even if he is jailed, AAP would still win the elections. “I want to tell Narendra Modiji, that at least in this life, you will not be able to defeat AAP in Delhi, you will have to take another birth to do so,” he reiterated. The reason behind the people’s support, according to the chief minister, was AAP’s emphasis on development that focused on schools, hospitals, electricity, water, roads, and pilgrimage for the old. Another reason for the party’s fast growth was, Kejriwal said, because of AAP’s value system of honesty, patriotism, and humanism.
“Today, our four leaders are in jail. Manish Sisodia has been in jail for nearly nine months. His wife suffers from a serious illness. They have jailed someone who changed the face of schools and brought a revolution in education. Satyendar Jain stayed behind bars for a year and is now out on medical grounds. He is someone who provided free health services and free electricity. Should he be in jail? Our leaders have made big sacrifices, they should be an inspiration for you, those who walked on the path of Bhagat Singh and are now behind bars fighting for the country,” said the AAP boss to the rank and file of the party.
Kejriwal then went on to target the credentials of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Is Narendra Modi honest? Is Narendra Modiji against corruption? I was listening to Modiji ‘s speech on the 27th of June in a Bhopal rally where he had said that the NCP is a highly corrupt party, their leaders are corrupt, they have indulged in a ghotala of Rs 70,000 crore and, a few days later, the very same leaders joined the BJP and were made deputy chief minister of Maharashtra,” he said.
Kejriwal then spoke on how Suvendu Adhikari was furiously targeted by the BJP allegedly for his involvement in the Saradha chit fund scam, and the Narada sting, and all the sins were washed away after he joined the BJP. Similarly, the incumbent chief minister of Assam was once also heavily attacked by the BJP on charges of corruption but once he joined the BJP, he was made the chief minister. “They do not act against their own will when it comes to corruption,” Kejriwal alleged.
“Their only aim is not to fight corruption but to use the CBI and the ED to break leaders of other parties and bring them into their own,” the AAP boss told his volunteers. He added that if Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh were to quit AAP and join the BJP, they would be out of jail within twenty-four hours.
“Now, the Prime Minister feels that he will lose the elections. Unemployment, inflation, and corruption have led people to be disappointed. They are unable to meet their household expenses. So, now the PM has made a plan to arrest the leaders of regional parties and put them behind bars. When leaders of regional parties go to jail, there would be no one to campaign and then the BJP will sweep the elections. This applies not just to me. Though they have made a plan to arrest me, so that when Kejriwal is in jail, how would he campaign for elections? They have also made a plan to arrest Mamata Banerjee, Tejashwi Yadav, and Hemant Soren so that they can sweep Bengal, Bihar, and Jharkhand. Modiji, is this the way to win elections? I challenge him to actually do it and see whether BJP is not wiped out in the elections,” Kejriwal said.