Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party kickstarts LS campaign, challenges Narendra Modi on black money issue

Written by PTI | Haryana | Updated: Feb 24 2014, 02:49am hrs
The AAP kickstarted its Lok Sabha campaign today with its leader Arvind Kejriwal challenging Narendra Modi to "show guts" in giving a promise to bring back black money of his industrialist friends allegedly stashed away abroad if he becomes Prime Minister.

Attacking both Modi and Rahul Gandhi on corruption issue and accusing their parties of favouring top industrialists, Kejriwal also alleged that any government, be it that of Modi or Gandhi, will be run by top business magnate Mukesh Ambani.

Kejriwal launched his campaign from his home state of Haryana at a well-attended 'hunkar'(battle cry) rally, his first after he resigned as Delhi Chief Minister on February 14. AAP plans to contest around 300 Lok Sabha seats.

During his 49-day tenure as Chief Minister, Kejriwal ordered filing a FIR against Mukesh Ambani and Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily among others, accusing them of manipulating gas prices, a charge denied by Ambani's Reliance Industries.

He said he has written to both Modi and Rahul on the issue of natural gas pricing and questioned their silence. Noting that Modi has stated that if elected to power, he will make all efforts to bring back black money kept abroad, 0Kejriwal said he should "show guts" and tell people that if he becomes the Prime Minister, he will bring back illegal money of his industrialist friends stashed away in Swiss accounts.

Accusing the RIL Chairman of running the country in a defacto manner, Kejriwal said, "Mukesh Ambani has Modi in one pocket and Rahul Gandhi in the other....He can allow Modi to have five-year term and also give Rahul Gandhi five years to


The AAP leader was also scathing in his attack on Congress leader and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, calling him a "property dealer", who took away land from farmers and gave them to companies like Reliance and businessmen like Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra.

He also did not spare the media, saying a section of it was biased and controlled by big industrialists having vested interests.

Taking on the media for allegedly "denigrating" him by saying that he resigned as he could not govern, Kejriwal said he had stepped down as he did not want to compromise on principles after Congress and BJP prevented the introduction

of Jan Lokpal Bill in the Delhi Assembly.

"Certain newspapers and TV channels are saying that I quit because I wanted to run away from governance. I am willing to give my life but I will not compromise on principles. I have showed that I have no love for the chair."

Referring to his government's seven-week rule in Delhi, Kejriwal said he would quit politics if anyone can prove that what his administration achieved in the short period including giving relief to people in the electricity and water fronts and bringing down corruption, any other government in the past had done so in similar timeframe.

Foggy weather in the morning had delayed the rally in Hooda's home district of Rohtak, from where the Chief Minister's son Deepinder Singh Hooda is the Congress MP.

In his 45-minute speech, Kejriwal also charged both Modi and Rahul with spending heavily for poll campaigning and image building and questioned the source of this money.

He claimed that Ambani knows whether it is the Congress led or BJP led government which comes to power, he is always in a win-win situation. "We have to end this," he said.

The AAP leader also debunked opinion polls and surveys conducted before the polls, saying these had given his party 2-3 seats in Delhi assembly polls, but it ended up getting 28 assembly seats.

"Money changes hands behind such surveys," he alleged. Kejriwal, who was accused of being a "fugitive" and escaping from responsibility by resigning by the Congress, hit back saying he had stepped down for the sake of the principles.

Equating his situation with that of Lal Bahadur Shastri, when he resigned as railway minister following a train accident, Kejriwal said he was left with little option as both BJP and Congress were hand-in-glove in opposing the Jan Lokpal bill.

He also rejected criticism of the language used by AAP leaders. "I want to tell them that we may be rural people and the way we speak may not please all, but we don't indulge in misdeeds like them," he said.

He said that AAP will again form the government in Delhi after coming to power with majority.

He also lashed out at those who claimed that his government had not delivered on its promises and had failed on governance.

Kejriwal said that his ministers including Somnath Bharti, Rakhi Birla and Manish Sisodia were at the beck and call of people who were in any problem and had on numerous occasions woken up in the middle of the night to help them.

"Sisodia used to check out every street in the middle of the night to ensure that people sleeping there in the cold weather got shelter," he said.

Kejriwal also rejected allegations that he had national ambitious, saying he did not have the lust for power and his aim was to serve the people.

He vowed never to compromise with principles.

Kejriwal urged voters to help his party win all ten Lok Sabha seats in Haryana and also form government in the state after the next assembly polls, due in September-October. Kejriwal said that during his short stint in Delhi, people had told him that corruption had started to go down, but now many have told him that things were back to old ways.

"I challenge anyone who says we failed on governance point. I want to say that the amount of work we did during our short stint, no government till date in Delhi had done so," he claimed.

Seeking to strike a chord with the farming community, he said if AAP government comes to power in Haryana, it will implement the Swaminathan commission report, which has recommended better returns for their crops.

He said that the state government has in the past made fun of farmers in distress, who had suffered crop damage, by handing out meagre cheque amounts of "Rs 10 and Rs 20". He asked people to support AAP to end corruption and to better their lives.

"It is your fight, we will have to put up a common fight. I am very small person, but I want to tell you (people of Haryana) that if people of Delhi can teach Congress and BJP a lesson, then people of Haryana can do the same," he said.

Earlier addressing the gathering, AAP leader Yogendra Yadav said that if AAP forms government in Haryana, it will order a high level investigation in all controversial issues including the alleged land scams and ensure that guilty are punished.

This was AAP's first major show of strength in Haryana as the party is looking to wrest power from the Congress by projecting as a viable alternative, with other main players in the state politics being INLD, BJP and HJC.