With an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha election, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will begin a countrywide yatra from Hisar in Haryana on Wednesday as part of the party’s ‘Make India Number 1’ campaign.
Mr. Kejriwal’s yatra coincides with the Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra, also beginning on Wednesday. After its recent victory in Punjab Assembly election, AAP is campaigning to dislodge the Congress from the position of the principal Opposition party to the BJP.
AAP has maintained a distance from the Opposition bloc both inside and outside Parliament. In the recent Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections, while the party voted with the Opposition parties, it did not send any representative to the various Opposition meetings, making it clear that it does not want to be part of any groups that are coordinated by the Congress. At the same time, AAP has been trying hard to make inroads into the traditional Hindu vote bank of the BJP.
“A few days ago, we launched a programme — Make India Number 1. It is the dream of 130 crore people to see India become world’s number one country,” Mr. Kejriwal said during a video statement on Tuesday.
He asserted that because of traditional political parties and politicians, India was lagging behind, “and if it is left to them, then India will remain backward for another 75 years”.
“Now, there will have to be an alliance of 130 crore people. We have to work like a team, like a family. If it happens, then no one can stop us from making India the world’s number 1 country. To achieve this, I will go to each State and will try to join people to this movement,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
“Tomorrow, I will start this yatra from my birthplace, Hisar, in Haryana. From there, I will go to the other States and will ask people to join the movement. Anyone can join the movement by giving a missed call to 9510001000,” he added.
Assembly poll plan
AAP’s campaign is also aimed at strengthening its position in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, where the Assembly polls are due this year-end. The party is hoping that its electoral performance in both these States will have a direct impact in Rajasthan that goes to poll next year.
On March 10, the day AAP swept the Punjab Assembly election, Mr. Kejriwal promptly visited the Hanuman temple in Delhi and later described his party’s performance as a “revolution” that would “spread throughout the country”. He also appealed to the “ aam aadmi (common man)“ to join AAP to build a “new India”.
The “Make India number 1” campaign, which was unveiled on August 17, aims to achieve five main objectives: free and quality education for all, free and quality healthcare for all, equality and safety for women, jobs for all youth, and fair price to all farmers for their produce. Many of these issues have been at the core of AAP’s politics over the years.
A party source said it won’t be a continuous yatra and will be done over a period of time. “The aim is to save the country in the 2024 election,” the source said.
After Haryana, the next State Mr. Kejriwal’s yatra will cover is Rajasthan, the source added. The party did not officially announce details of the campaign other than the Hisar event.
Attack on PM
On Tuesday, Mr. Kejriwal said there is not a single country that has become developed without providing quality education to the children and that should be India’s main focus.
He attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the latter’s announcement for “modernisation” of 14,500 government schools. “I fail to understand how such a small measure will be of any help in a country with 10.5 lakh government schools. If we modernise 14,500 of them every year, it will take 70-80 years to fix 10.5 lakh schools,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
He appealed to the Prime Minister to transform all the lakh government schools at the same time within the next five years. “Our country wouldn’t have lagged behind had we built excellent schools right from the time of Independence and given the best possible quality of education to each child,” he added.
Mr. Kejriwal also met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Delhi and later said they discussed the BJP’s alleged corruption and buying of MLAs among other issues.