Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday promised to implement the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) in tribal-dominated areas of Chhattisgarh if his party is voted to power in the upcoming assembly elections in the state.
Addressing a rally in Jagdalpur, the headquarters of Bastar district, the AAP chief also said that the country does not want “one nation, one election” but it needs “one nation, one education”.
“We guarantee that if AAP is elected to power in Chhattisgarh, PESA will be implemented within a month of the formation of the government in the interest of tribals and to protect their ‘jal (water), jungle (forest), and zameen’ (land),” he said. The Panchayat Act gives gram sabhas the power to manage the affairs as per local traditions and customs.
Elections to the 90-member Chhattisgarh legislative assembly is due for later this year. In 2018 assembly polls, the AAP had unsuccessfully contested on 85 seats.
In an appeal to the voters, Kejriwal asked them to prioritise education and health over caste and religious considerations, saying the country does not want “’ne nation, one election” but it needs “one nation, one education”.
Referring to actor Shah Rukh Khan’s dialogue in movie Jawan, the AAP chief said: “Shah Rukh says in the movie that instead of voting for caste and religion, (one should) question the vote-seekers what they will do for education and health of people.”
He also attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying, “Despite the sad news of the martyrdom of three Army officers, the BJP was busy with the celebration at the party headquarters in Delhi. The entire country was pained to see this…,” he alleged.
The AAP leader, who was accompanied by his party colleague and Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann, also hit out the BJP over the ongoing “India or Bharat” debate and dared the ruling party at the Centre to change the name of the country.
“This country does not belong to your father, it belongs to 140 crore [1.4 billion] people. I dare you to change the name,” he said.
Kejriwal said that after 28 opposition parties formed an alliance and named it INDIA [Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance], the BJP out of frustration said it would rename India as Bharat. He questioned if the BJP will change the name of Bharat if the alliance changes its name to Bharat.
There was no immediate reaction from the BJP to Kejriwal’s remarks in Chhattisgarh.