‘Kejriwal missing’: AAP cadre feels Delhi CM’s absence in Karnataka electioneering

Karnataka AAP chief Prithvi Reddy said AAP is fighting the election in Karnataka on 3 primary issues -- corruption, "no-negligence" governance and farmers.

Bengaluru: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders and workers are feeling the absence of party supremo Arvind Kejriwal in the Karnataka Assembly election but the Delhi Chief Minister has been tied up with work in the national capital, party state unit president Prithvi Reddy said on Sunday.

With campaigning for the high-voltage elections set to wind up on Monday, Kejriwal has been missing from electioneering for the AAP that is contesting in 209 seats in Karnataka this time. He had visited the state on March 4 to launch the party’s election campaign in the state from Davangere.

“Of course, we feel the absence of Arvind Kejriwal but that’s more of a sentimental issue. Arvind Kejriwal is no longer an individual, he is an idea. The idea of Arvind Kejriwal is very much prevalent in this election because the three other parties have been copying the AAP’s narrative,” Reddy told PTI.

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He said the primary responsibility of Kejriwal is to ensure people of Delhi “do not suffer” as two senior party leaders have been arrested by central agencies.

“Arvind Kejriwal started off the election campaign in Karnataka in March and since then, a lot has happened in Delhi due to which, our leaders were tied up. Two of our senior leaders (former Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia and Health Minister Satyendar Jain) got arrested who were otherwise taking care of running the government. Hence, Arvind Kejriwal’s primary responsibility right now is to ensure that the people of Delhi do not suffer in any way,” he said.

Other senior leaders of the party who campaigned in Karnataka were Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, Rajya Sabha members Raghav Chadha and Sanjay Singh and senior leaders Dilip Pandey and Atishi.

When asked how many seats the party expects to win in Karnataka, the state AAP president said: “Earlier when we fought the elections in Karnataka in 2018, AAP was just an idea. There was no proof of the concept. There are contenders who appear for the exams just to pass. We have prepared to get a hundred marks. A lot of the work that we started earlier in 2015 wasn’t in a ready state or showing results in 2018. Moreover, we fought in only 28 seats in 2018. This time, we are fighting in 209 seats.”

Speaking about the remarks of other political parties on AAP fighting the Karnataka Assembly election, Reddy said other parties have been underestimating the AAP at their own risk and that the party represents the aspirations of people.

“Let’s not forget that we have been called seasonal insects by then Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. At a time when nobody knew AAP, we won 28 seats in Delhi. When they said we will get 5 to 6 seats, the AAP got 67 in Delhi. It is at their own risk that they are underestimating the AAP because it is the only party that truly represents the aspiration of people,” Reddy told PTI.

He further said AAP is fighting the election in Karnataka on three primary issues — corruption, “no-negligence” governance and farmers.

Lashing out at the BJP, Reddy stated that the allegation of 40 per cent commission made against the government was not levelled by any political parties but rather the state contractors association, schools association and the maths.

“When we talk about elections in Karnataka, the first major issue is corruption. The BJP always promised ‘double engine sarkar’ but what has doubled here is the commission. The accusations of 40 per cent commission is not something that the political parties have made, it is the contractors association, the schools association and the maths which are the religious institutions,” Reddy told PTI.

He further accused the MLAs in Karnataka of neglecting their own constituencies and contended that several districts in the state need the government’s attention.

“It is a large state and large areas and regions outside Bengaluru have been neglected. No attention has been paid in various districts. The consecutive parties that have won from north and south Karnataka chose to come to Bengaluru and do real estate business,” he alleged.

Speaking about the issues faced by farmers in Karnataka, Reddy said the three farm laws that were repealed by the Centre after intense protests must be withdrawn from the state as well while the Swaminathan Commission report on providing minimum support price (MSP) should be implemented.

“Being an agrarian state, the farmers here have been asking for implementation of Swaminathan Commission report for a very long time for the MSP. The Karnataka government also didn’t withdraw the three farm laws that were implemented and then withdrawn by the rest of the country. There’s a huge loan burden on farmers and we assured loan waivers to the farmers as well,” he said.

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