Putting its best foot forward outside Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party recreated the Ramlila Maidan magic on the HUDA Ground here at a well-attended ‘hunkar’ or war cry rally on Sunday to kick-start its Lok Sabha election campaign.
Attacking the Congress and the BJP over corruption, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal asked the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, to spell out his links with Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani. He said he had also written to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, asking him to break his silence on the issue.
With confetti and balloons in the air and accompanied by dhols and frenzied dancing, Mr. Kejriwal read out two numbers that he claimed were those of Mr. Mukesh Ambani’s Swiss bank accounts.
Announcing his party’s decision to contest all 10 Lok Sabha and 90 Assembly seats in his home State of Haryana, Mr. Kejriwal asked the cheering crowds to throw out the traditional parties as the AAP did in Delhi.
Recalling Lal Bahadur Shastri’s forgotten slogan of Jai Jawan Jai Kisan, he promised goodies for farmers, and soldiers killed in action and recovery of ill-gotten money stashed away in Swiss banks.
Mr. Kejriwal said his party would implement the report of the Swaminathan Committee that has recommended an almost double the present support price for agricultural produce, and would increase the compensation for soldiers killed in action to Rs. 1 crore.
Held in Haryana’s Jat heartland, which is also Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s home town, the rally belied predictions with its unprecedented turnout, marked by minimal resource mobilisation and some hindrance from the ruling establishment.
Accusing the Congress as well as the BJP of “hobnobbing with Mr. Mukesh Ambani and allowing him to influence governance in return for donations and freebies,” the AAP leader said both forsook their responsibility towards farmers and the poor and instead gave Reliance and other big industries benefits.
He said that from April 1 the prices of CNG, electricity and fertilizers would go up drastically because the government had doubled the price of natural gas to be bought from Reliance Industries to $8.4 per mmbtu. “At a time when the government has no money to give farmers or subsidise electricity and water for the poor, it is giving Rs. 54,000 crores of benefits to Mr. Ambani.”
Mr. Kejriwal did not spare the media either, saying a section was biased and controlled by industrialists with vested interests.
Stung by criticism of his 48-day rule in Delhi, he said if any other State government was shown to do what he had done, he would “quit politics.”
Making it clear that the AAP had the Haryana Assembly as its goal and would use the Lok Sabha elections as a rung towards that end, Gurgaon candidate Yogendra Yadav said the party would investigate corruption cases reported in the past 20 years.