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Second day of Gujarat visit; Kejriwal, Sisodia to engage with youth amid Delhi Excise Policy row

Second day of Gujarat visit; Kejriwal, Sisodia to engage with youth amid Delhi Excise Policy row

Ahmedabad: On the second day of their trip to Gujarat, where elections are scheduled for later this year, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia will engage with young people in the city of Bhavnagar on the issues of education and employment.

The two Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders spoke with voters while taking part in an event on Monday in Himmatnagar.

AAP national convener Kejriwal and Delhi's education minister Sisodia will take part in a town hall meeting with Gujarati youngsters on Tuesday in Bhavnagar to discuss education and employment.

They have made a number of promises to voters if their party wins the state election in Gujarat.

After guarantees like free electricity, freedom from "raid raaj" for businessmen, Rs 3000 per month unemployment allowance, 10 lakh government jobs and Rs 1000 per month to women above the age of 18, Kejriwal on Monday promised free and quality healthcare to all, as his government has ensured to the people of Delhi.

Kejriwal has been on a campaigning spree in Gujarat.

He has visited the state five times in August so far.

He started the month by campaigning at Veraval in Gir Somnath district and Rajkot.

During his next visit, he interacted with the trader community in Jamnagar and tribals at Bodeli in the Chhota Udepur district.

He later held a town hall meeting in Ahmedabad, and then at Bhuj in Kutch during two separate visits.

Kejriwal, who is also the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener, expressed apprehension that Sisodia may be arrested soon.

Sisodia is among 15 people and entities named in an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Delhi excise policy.

However, Kejriwal came out in strong defence of his deputy, who holds education and finance among a host of key portfolios in the Delhi government.

"The New York Times has lauded our education model," Kejriwal, on his fifth visit in a month to poll-bound Gujarat, said in Ahmedabad, referring to an article in the reputed US daily on the transformation of schools in the national capital under the AAP government.

Instead of appreciating Sisodia, he is being targeted, Kejriwal told reporters here.

"Don't you feel ashamed to make the CBI conduct raids on a man who did wonders in five years, did what existing political parties could not do in 70 years and made government schools the best? Such a man should get the Bharat Ratna (India's highest civilian award)," the CM said.

The AAP chief expressed apprehension that Sisodia may be arrested soon.

"Manish Sisodia may be arrested; who knows I may also be arrested. All this is being done in view of the Gujarat Assembly elections," he said.

Kejriwal said the people of Gujarat are "sad" and are bearing the brunt of the "arrogance" of the BJP regime over the last 27 years in the state.

He promised quality education and health care to the people of Gujarat if the AAP comes to power in the state, where the Assembly polls are due by the year-end.

Defending the Delhi government's liquor policy, Kejriwal said they were forced to change it.

"A total of 850 (liquor) shops had to open in Delhi. But only 350 shops could open, and 500 shops could not open. The way the Centre and all agencies started pressuring our officers, they said no to auctioning new shops. The LG (Lieutenant Governor), police, and central agencies were putting pressure. The policy is very good, and we are ready to debate with anyone," he said.

Sisodia and Kejriwal are on a two-day visit to Gujarat to reach out to voters ahead of the Assembly polls scheduled for later this year.

Addressing a joint conference in Ahmedabad, Kejriwal and Sisodia "guaranteed" free and quality education and healthcare in poll-bound Gujarat along the lines of Delhi if the AAP was voted to power.

Sisodia said good education is the right of every child in Gujarat, irrespective of whether he lives in a village, or city, or studies in a government or private school.

Kejriwal promised free and quality healthcare to all in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

"If voted to power, the AAP government will set up clinics like 'mohalla' clinics of Delhi at village and ward levels and improve the infrastructure of government hospitals to compete with private hospitals. The AAP government will also implement the Delhi scheme of free treatment for accident victims," Kejriwal said.

At the presser, Kejriwal introduced Sisodia as the "world's best education minister" quoting a New York Times report.

"We assure to provide the best education system to every child born in Gujarat as we have done in Delhi. I appeal to all to give Arvind Kejriwal a chance if you want Gujarat to progress and move forward. The Aam Aadmi Party and CM Kejriwal guarantee to provide a free and best education system in Gujarat," Sisodia said.

Kejriwal also addressed a town hall meeting in Himmatnagar town of Sabarkantha district, where he sought to position the contest between the BJP and the AAP in the upcoming Gujarat Assembly polls as a "Dharamyudh" like the Mahabharat where the ruling outfit has the "armies" of probe agencies CBI and the ED on its side, while his party has the "support of Lord Krishna".

Kejriwal compared the BJP with the Kauravas, the defeated villains of the Mahabharat, and his side to the Pandavas, the victorious heroes of the Hindu epic.

He claimed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Gujarat is yearning for a change and the AAP has received immense support from the people.

This was the reason why the CBI raided the home of Sisodia in connection with the Delhi excise policy a few days ago, the AAP's national convener said.

Sisodia who was also present in the town hall programme.

"This is a Dharamyudh (religious war) like the Mahabharat," Kejriwal said and narrated the story of how Duryodhan (from Kauravas) and Arjun (from Pandavas) approached Lord Krishna for support before the 18-day war began.

Arjun said he wanted Lord Krishna on his side, while Duryodhan sought his army, the CM said.

"Today, these people (a reference to BJP) have all the armies, power, the CBI, the ED (Enforcement Directorate), the Income Tax, police and a lot of money. We have Shree Krishna with us. We have God with us. And in the end truth, God will prevail. God resides in the hearts of people, they are God. They (BJP) may harass us, but people are with us," he said at the town hall organised by the AAP as part of its election campaign.

Kejriwal said his government in Delhi has implemented far-reaching reforms in education and healthcare which were not seen in 75 years of Independence.

He said Gujarat wants a change after 27 years of the BJP rule.

"So far Gujarat did not have an alternative. Now, they have got a good, honest alternative, and people want good works to be done in the state like what all are being done in Delhi and now Punjab (also ruled by AAP)," said the bureaucrat-turned-politician.

He reiterated his party's pre-poll promises of providing 10 lakh government jobs, paying Rs 5,000 unemployment dole and Rs 3,000 allowance to women above 18 years of age

With PTI inputs

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TAGS:AAPGujaratArvind kejriwalManish Sisodia
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