Ahead of the 2019 Parliamentary elections, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has been a frequent visitor to Punjab. On Thursday, Kejriwal was in Bathinda to attend the wedding of party MLA from Bathinda (rural) constituency Rupinder Kaur ‘Ruby’. He also went to Sangrur, where he held an informal meeting with AAP MLAs and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann. HT’s Avtar Singh caught up with him for an interview. Excerpts.
Have you made a strategy for 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Punjab?
We are soon going to announce candidates for all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The 22-member core committee will finalise these names. Though, the AAP had won four seats in 2014, we hope for an increased tally this time. People of the state feel that they made a mistake in the 2017 assembly polls. We appeal to them to vote for the AAP this time.
Will names of rebel party leaders like Dharamvira Gandhi be considered?
AAP faces factionalism. How will you get leaders on a common platform in Punjab?
All will show unity soon.
How do you see the Bargari protest?
After the report of justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh should have lodged an FIR against Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal. There was no need to form a Special Investigation Team (SIT). The Badals should have been arrested and interrogated.
What is your view on religiously-motivated politics?
70 years. However, the BJP government has done this over the past three years. The need of the hour is a development agenda and not religious conflicts. We need to make, not break India.
What is you take on stubble burning?
Farmers are helpless and governments have failed to address the issue. I have even met Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan and Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, but to no avail.
How are government schools able to provide quality education in Delhi?
It depends on will. In Punjab, the salary of a teacher has been reduced to ₹15,000 from ₹45,000. In contrast, we have increased the remuneration of ad hoc teachers from ₹17,000 to ₹34,000. Even a Punjab government minister cannot run his house in ₹15,000.