He also promised to make some “very damaging revelations against two very big leaders of this country” on October 6.
While Kejriwal and fellow travellers abided by Anna Hazare’s wish that his name not be used for soliciting votes, Gopal Rai coined a new moniker for the social activist — Ralegan ke fakir (the saint of Ralegan) — and dwelt at length on his “teachings”. The “I am Anna” caps have been replaced by “I am aam admi I want Jan Lokpal” caps and these, Kejriwal said, would be the symbol of the party.
The party was launched in the presence of 1,000-odd people at the Constitution Club lawns, with the release of a vision document and programme. Huge portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri were displayed on the stage. Psephologist Yogendra Yadav made his formal debut as a member of the party while former Team Anna member Kumar Vishwas announced that he would stay out but canvass for votes when required.
With the Delhi Assembly elections to be the party’s launch pad, Kejriwal threatened to disconnect power supply to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s residence if she did not resolve the issue of “inflated power bills” by November 3. “All political parties are partners in corruption and their concerns for the common man are mere theatrics. However we are setting two goals for ourselves on this first day as a political party — we will force the Delhi government to reduce water and power bills. On October 7, citizens from 62 Assembly constituencies will assemble and burn their power bills once more and if the tariff hike is not undone, we will not only gherao the Chief Minister’s residence but also should she dare to disconnect supply in even one house for non-payment, we will cut off her power,” Kejriwal said.
The promises in the party’s vision document included free education and health for all. Funds for these, the speakers said, would come from the “money saved by cracking down on corruption”. The draft rules say that there should be a ceiling of one person per family for election tickets to curb nepotism. Kejriwal also claimed his team was working on a model to give direct power to the people, to be implemented immediately after they were voted to power.
Attacking the charge levelled at them of trying to dictate laws while not being equipped to do the same, Kejriwal said that when “half the people in Parliament are illiterates”, the public was better suited to decide how their money was spent. “If Rabri Devi can be the chief minister of Bihar, common man can definitely take his own decisions.”
Vishwas took up Sonia’s visits abroad, a issue the BJP has raked up. “The 18-man medical team of US President Barrack Obama has 13 Indians, yet there is a very big leader in our country who flies out every time she has a health issue. If she cannot trust our educated sons, how does she expect us to trust her son on the veracity of whose educational qualifications Subramanian Swamy is still doing research?” he said.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari was also a favourite target, with activist Anjali Damania repeating her allegations against Gadkari on his association with Sharad Pawar. “When I met Gadkari on the irrigation scam, he said he could not do anything because he has close business ties with Sharad Pawar — ‘He does four works of ours, we do four of his’. When I mentioned the work Kirit Somaiya is doing, he said that man is eccentric, has an inflated ego,” Damania said.
Many speakers talked about Hazare, with Sanjay Singh replying to his statement that politics is full of dirt with: “Politics done by Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jyoti Basu, E M S Namboordiripad, or Raj Narain was not so. Politics is not always full of dirty. It is being made so,” he said.
In an indication that Kejriwal hopes Hazare will be with them again, Yadav said: “One has to understand that whoever is asking questions is doing so because he cares, and the one who is opposed now can become a fellow traveller in a while.”