By Praveen Dwivedi
New Delhi, June 29 | Leading the Aam Aadmi Party from the front for the Punjab Assembly polls due early next year, AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday kicked off the campaign, announcing free and subsidised electricity in the state, a tested formula of his own in the national capital.
Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh, the capital of the northern Indian states of Punjab and Haryana on Tuesday, Kejriwal offered free electricity up to 300 units and promised to waive all the old electricity bills and arrears, if AAP forms the government in Punjab.
AAP’s announcement came amid a significant time when Punjab’s ruling Amarinder Singh-led Congress has been facing widespread protests in urban and rural areas against breakdown in power supply. In many places, in rural areas, employees of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) even have been attacked.
Kejriwal claimed people of Punjab are paying highest electricity bills despite the production of power in the state being more than its consumption. “Delhi does generate power on its own and purchases it from other states, but around 73 per cent of families are getting electricity free of cost and at subsidised rate of to 50 per cent. This can happen in Punjab also, if AAP forms the government,” Kejriwal said.
The top leadership of the party, though, was yet to clear the chief ministerial face for the poll-bound state, and local leaders want the party should clear the name as soon as possible. “The issue of chief ministrial candidate needs to be resolved soon. There are many faces in the party who are capable to hold the responsibility, but the party wants a face that can counter Captain Amarinder Singh’s stature,” said a Delhi-based MLA and national spokesperson of AAP.
AAP’s spokesperson further said the party plans to gain popularity among the people of Punjab step-by-step sensing the opposition’s strategies in the upcoming elections. He said both central and local leadership are fully confident that the party will get people’s support for its clear stand to support farmers’ protest against the three controversial farm laws introduced by the Centre last year.
The party believes three other important factors – Delhi’s development works under AAP government, anti-incumbency against Punjab’s ruling Congress and rampant corruption throughout Punjab will help it in gaining support in the upcoming election.
“We are in a very good position at present and the party will go in the elections with full confidence to form the government this time. Local leaders have worked a lot and have stood with the people of Punjab on every issue they raised,” AAP leader added.
In the last Assembly polls in 2017, AAP had contested on 112 seats out of total 117 seats in Punjab, and had secured the second position by winning 20 seats after Congress’ 77. While, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won 15 and 3 seats, respectively.
Also, the AAP was at the third position in total vote share in the state after Congress (38.50 per cent) and SAD (25.24 per cent) as AAP secured 23.17 per cent.