Chandigarh: In the run-up to the 2024 assembly elections in Haryana, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is promising to implement its “Delhi model of governance” if voted to power in the state where it has been contesting the polls since 2014, but is yet to score any major victory.
“We promised the Delhi model of governance to the people of Punjab, and our government [there] led by chief minister Bhagwant Mann is implementing all those promises. Now, we will replicate the same in Haryana [if voted to power in the state],” Sushil Kumar Gupta, a Rajya Sabha MP and AAP’s Haryana unit chief, told ThePrint over phone Monday.
Elections to the Haryana assembly are scheduled to be held next year, in 2024, and AAP has set its sight on Haryana, currently ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) alliance, after forming government in neighbouring Delhi and Punjab.
Gupta said AAP has already set up an organisational structure at the macro-level in Haryana, and is now planning to appoint office-bearers up to the village-level in rural areas and ward-level in urban areas to have an active office-bearer strength of 2.5 lakh workers.
Gupta outlined the party’s seven plans for Haryana on the lines of its work done in Delhi, where party chief Arvind Kejriwal is the CM.
“The AAP is giving seven services and facilities for free to residents in Delhi. The same is now being implemented by the Mann government in Punjab and, when the party comes to power in Haryana, the state will also start getting the benefit of these schemes,” said Gupta.
He mentioned these services to be “free education for all students in government schools and for 25 percent of students in private schools, mohalla [neighbourhood] clinics and free treatment for 10 percent of patients in private hospitals, 300 units per month of free power, 20,000 litres of free drinking water, free bus travel for women, all-expenses-paid pilgrimage travel for people above the age of 60 and jobs to all unemployed youth”.
“We are promising all seven facilities to people in Haryana if voted to power,” Gupta reiterated.
When asked how the party planned to provide jobs to all youth when the unemployment rate was pegged at 37.4 percent in Haryana, Gupta said AAP, if voted to power, would fill all vacant posts in the government and also promote private industries so that more job avenues could be created.
Referring to the “Bijli Andolan” launched by Kejriwal and Mann from Haryana’s Panchkula Sunday, the AAP leader said the party, besides providing free power to the state’s residents, will also make them aware of how they were being charged heavily for electricity due to corruption and suffering regular power outages.
Asked about the BJP’s allegation that the AAP was “distributing freebies” to people for votes, Gupta said that “giving back to people the funds collected from them by way of taxes doesn’t in any manner come under the category of freebies”.
“After giving all these services for free in Delhi, the government led by Kejriwal is left with Rs 8,100 crore in its exchequer because there is no corruption. On the other hand, without giving any of these facilities, the Manohar Lal Khattar led BJP-JJP government in Haryana presented a budget estimate (2023-2024) with a fiscal deficit of Rs 34,000 crore,” claimed Gupta, further alleging that “the actual deficit is more than Rs 50,000 crore”.
AAP strategy for ‘fertile ground Haryana’
According to Gupta, office-bearers have already been appointed for the party at the district and block levels.
“We will next complete the process of constituting circle committees, one each for five villages, and village committees in rural areas. Also, ward committees will be formulated in the urban areas, taking the number of office-bearers to 2.5 lahks in Haryana by the end of August,” he said.
Speaking to ThePrint over phone Monday, Ashok Tanwar, chairman of the AAP’s campaign committee in Haryana, said the party was exhorting its workers at the grassroots level to highlight the shortcomings of the BJP-JJP government and the benefits of AAP’s Delhi model of governance currently being replicated in Punjab.
“Haryana is a fertile ground for the AAP this time [in next year’s assembly elections] because the people are fed up with the BJP-JJP alliance over graft and anti-farmer and anti-people policies,” he said.
“The people have already rejected the Congress twice in the state. They see a ray of hope in the AAP and Kejriwal because of our commitment to end corruption and ensure quality education, healthcare, and other facilities free of cost to even the poorest of poor,” added Tanwar, who was earlier president of the Congress in Haryana.
The AAP’s electoral record has been poor in Haryana so far.
In the 2014 general election, the AAP had contested and lost all 10 of Haryana’s Lok Sabha seats. In 2019, the party fielded three candidates for the general election and 46 candidates for the 90-member state assembly, but couldn’t win any of the seats.
In November 2022, however, the AAP won 14 of 102 zila parishad seats in the polls to Panchayati Raj Institutions, close to the BJP’s victory on 22 seats.
“The situation on the ground has changed a lot, particularly after the Punjab elections (in 2022) which the AAP won with a huge mandate. CM Mann has performed exceedingly well and the people of Haryana are now looking towards AAP for a change in the way they have been governed so far. They are fed up with the rampant corruption and want a positive change,” Tanwar asserted.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)