|Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia shows a poster featuring Kejriwal and reflecting its national ambitions. Picture by Prem Singh
New Delhi, Feb. 15: Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party today wasted no time in declaring its national ambitions but suggested it would concentrate its firepower on the Narendra Modi-led BJP.
The BJP didn’t pull its punches either, labelling Kejriwal’s 49-day government the “worst” Delhi had ever witnessed.
“Thank God, the nightmare is over,” Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Arun Jaitley said, summing up his party’s mood after Kejriwal’s resignation yesterday as chief minister, the reaction suggesting the BJP was worried the AAP could eat into the anti-Congress vote Modi might have attracted.
The battle lines appeared to have been drawn already.
AAP ideologue Yogendra Yadav said the target was Modi as the Congress had become “irrelevant”.
“The Congress and the UPA have become irrelevant in this election. Narendra Modi is providing a mere substitute in the present system. The Aam Aadmi Party under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal will provide an alternative to this,” he said.
The AAP would launch its national campaign from Haryana, Kejriwal’s native state, with a rally on February 23 in Rohtak.
Kejriwal, too, spoke about his party’s plans. The AAP boss came on television screens to declare that he wanted to “spread the fragrance of the aam aadmi in Parliament”.
In the frame was a black-and-white portrait of Bhagat Singh, though Friday’s mood of martyrdom appeared to have been left behind in the pitch for the future. “The people of Delhi experienced the fragrance... I want to take this fragrance in Parliament,” Kejriwal told a news channel, the assertion punctuated by the words “mai to bahoot chhota aadmi hoon (I am a very small person)”.
The interview followed the announcement by the AAP that it would contest the Lok Sabha elections under Kejriwal’s leadership and target the Modi-led BJP.
The announcement came on a day lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung forwarded Kejriwal’s resignation to the President with the recommendation to impose central rule and keep the Assembly in suspended animation, which keeps the option open for a party or alliance to claim majority and stake claim to form the government.
Jung turned down Kejriwal’s plea to dissolve the House and hold “immediate” elections, but his decision appeared to have suited the AAP’s plans to focus on the Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP came down heavily on the AAP, saying its motto appeared to be “clever politics” and “no governance”.
“It had no qualms before accepting the Congress’s support in order to prove its majority (in the Delhi House). Most of its MLAs were inexperienced, lacked maturity, were outlandish, had an agitational approach but were foreign to any form of governance,” Jaitley said.
The BJP veteran said every day its leaders spent in the Delhi government’s secretariat was trying because they were like “bulls in a china shop”.
“It was arrogant enough to believe that only its leaders were honest and everyone else was compromised,” he added.
Kejriwal appeared to be weighing the possible fallout of contesting the Lok Sabha elections. “It has not been decided yet whether I will contest the Lok Sabha elections or not,” he told a news channel.
“I have no desire to become a hero by contesting against Narendra Modi,” he told another channel.
AAP sources said the party wanted Kejriwal to contest from New Delhi constituency.
The party continued to equate the BJP and the Congress with industrialist Mukesh Ambani. “Mukesh Ambani and his 40 brothers got together to defeat the Lokpal bill to fight corruption. Now the Congress and the BJP should join hands and form the government,” AAP leader Manish Sisodia said, referring to yesterday’s defeat that prompted Kejriwal’s resignation.
“Now since Cong will rule Delhi through LG, would FIR against Mukesh Ambani be diluted?” Kejriwal tweeted.
The Union cabinet has recommended President’s rule in Delhi and the Assembly to be kept in suspended animation. Delhi would come under central rule after promulgation of a notification by the President.