Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal launched the outfit’s election campaign in Goa by promising clean politics, free electricity for every household up to 300 units, waiving of pending bills, 24/7 uninterrupted power supply and free electricity for farmers. He also launched a scathing attack on both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, without naming either, for “dal badal" (party switch) politics.
Kejriwal started by saying that while the weather in Goa was better compared to Delhi, the politics of the state was a different story. “It feels good to be in Goa; it is very hot in Delhi. The weather in Goa is lovely; however, Goa’s politics has become very bad, very corrupt," said the Delhi chief minister. Kejriwal went on to elaborate how the Congress party, which had won 17 seats in the last Goa assembly elections and ended up as the single largest party, now has just five seats, while the BJP, which had won just 13 seats, is running the government with 28 seats. “Two years ago, on the 10th of July, 10 MLAs of the Congress party quit to join the BJP. People had voted for the Congress party to form the government, the mandate was for the Congress party, but the BJP formed the government. The party, which had 13 MLAs, now has 28 MLAs, and the party, which had 17 MLAs, has only five left," Kejriwal said.
On July 10, 2019, ten MLAs from the Congress, which had emerged as the single largest party with 17 seats, switched to the BJP, which was the runner-up with 13 seats, enabling the latter to form the government in the 40-member assembly. The BJP also managed the support of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Goa Forward Party and independents. AAP had sent cakes to these turncoat MLAs last Saturday, marking the second anniversary of their crossing over, and launched its ‘Let’s Clean Goa Politics’ campaign.
“What is happening?" the Delhi chief minister asked, going on to say that this is a question that every Goan is asking. “Why conduct elections, distribute money among each other and form governments…then elections become a farce. There is no meaning in them anymore."
Kejriwal reiterated that the party, meaning the BJP, that had 13 MLAs and should have been sitting in the opposition, is now running the government with 28 seats, and the party, which is the Congress, that had 17 MLAs and the people’s mandate to form the government, is now left with five. “This is cheating," he said. “This is not right."
Emphasising that the “betrayal" of the mandate has hurt the people’s trust, Kejriwal said, “Ever since we have launched this campaign in Goa, in the past ten days, I think we have touched a raw nerve, as people feel betrayed by both the parties and those MLAs." The Delhi chief minister claimed that thousands of Goans are responding to the ‘Let’s Clean Goa Politics’ drive by registering online and communicating via missed calls, vowing not to vote for the parties or the legislators who betrayed their trust.
“Goa wants clean politics, Goa wants change. It does not matter who you vote for, as the winners end up with the BJP. People have decided that they want change. Earlier they did not have an option; now they have an option in the form of AAP," Kejriwal said in what is a constant refrain in his addresses.
The Delhi chief minister then went on to give four guarantees to the people of the coastal state if AAP forms the government. As earlier in Uttarakhand and Punjab, Kejriwal promised up to 300 units of free electricity for every household every month, waiving of pending bills, 24/7 uninterrupted power supply and free electricity for farmers. He recalled a story about an MLA who pays electricity bills of people that they drop in the post box and said that people will be free from such things. “MLAs won’t have to pay the electricity bills of people anymore as people will get ‘zero’ as amount to be paid in their bills. It is happening in Delhi; 73% of people in Delhi get zero electricity bills," Kejriwal said, highlighting the ‘Delhi model’. “And after today’s announcement, after the AAP government is formed, once this announcement is implemented, 87% of Goa will start getting zero electricity bills."
Kejriwal also said that the party will prepare an agenda for Goa drawn from the feedback of the people. Especially targeting female voters, he said that women would be the happiest following these announcements.
The Delhi chief minister took the opportunity to thank the local workers and supporters of AAP for reaching out to people in the tough times of the ongoing pandemic without a thought for their own well-being.
The AAP chief had on Tuesday met Sudin Dhavalikar of the MGP, sparking speculation of a possible alliance ahead of the 2022 assembly elections. Both sides, however, have termed the crucial meeting a “courtesy call". Kejriwal also met local party leaders and held one-on-one meetings with some. Interestingly, the MGP had also supported the BJP in the formation of the government. However, later, two of its three MLAs joined the BJP.
The AAP national convener has already announced that the party would be contesting assembly elections in Goa in 2022. This is the second foray of AAP in the state. In 2017, despite a spirited campaign, goodwill and a popular face like Elvis Gomes as the chief ministerial pick, the party had drawn a blank. In the zilla parishad elections, AAP opened its account by winning its lone seat of Benaulim while the BJP swept these elections, winning 32 of a total of 49 seats. The Congress party was a poor second with just four seats.
A day after his Uttarakhand visit, and ahead of his Goa trip, the AAP supremo had tweeted, “Goa wants change. Enough of parties buying and selling MLAs. Enough of dirty politics. Goa wants development. There is no shortage of funds, only shortage of honest intent. Goa wants honest politics. See you in Goa."