AAP expands to Haryana
AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressed a 'Haryana Bachao Rally' in Hisar on Sunday. He declared that his party will contest all the 90 seats of the Haryana Assembly in 2019 and promised that if his party does come to power, he would work to bring about the same miraculous changes in the education and health sectors that Delhi has witnessed in the last three years of AAP rule. He pitched for the removal of both Congress and BJP from power, emphasising that corruption is rampant in both parties' governments. He said he envisioned a complete transformation of the state and vowed that the AAP will form the government in Haryana in 2019. In neighbouring Punjab, his party has won 20 seats in a house of 117. Congress with 77 seats is in power and AAP is the main opposition. AAP had contested the Goa Assembly elections but could not win even a single seat. It has so far won Assembly seats in Delhi and Punjab. Haryana, which falls in between the two states, is also Arvind Kejriwal's home state. At the moment, BJP with 47 seats is in power while the Indian National Lok Dal with 19 seats forms the main opposition. Congress has 17 seats in the Haryana Assembly. Recently, the Delhi High Court restored the membership of 20 AAP MLAs who were disqualified by the Election Commission (EC) for holding double posts of profit. The High Court in its order asked the EC to give them a proper hearing and then decide about the consequences of the matter. The disqualified MLAs had approached the High Court accusing the EC of not giving the MLAs a chance to defend themselves. Before the High Court verdict, the party was facing the prospects of re-election in 20 constituencies of Delhi. Now, it does not have to worry about re-elections in Delhi, and can well concentrate on the Haryana Assembly elections in 2019, ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections in 2020. Apart from Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, Arvind Kejriwal is one the opposition leaders who do not want to forge an alliance with the Congress, which poses a threat to the AAP in Delhi and in Punjab it's in power while AAP is the main opposition party. But both AAP and Congress had supported Jignesh Mewani in Gujarat Assembly elections. This shows that Kejriwal will be making decisions based on merit of each case and its approach to the Congress can be expected to remain flexible. AAP's decision to contest the Haryana Assembly elections shows its ambition to expand its base out of Delhi. In Delhi, however, its tussle with the Centre appointed Lieutenant-Governor is at the peak once again. The AAP leaders complain that the L-G either sits over or dismisses any new initiative the party undertakes. Recently, the L-G office is said to have quashed the AAP government's ambitious proposal of delivering ration at the doorsteps of the beneficiaries. However, L-G Anil Baijal has said that the details of the scheme have been sent to the Central government for a decision. Undoubtedly, the AAP government has been coming up with innovative ideas in the field of healthcare and education. In the latest budget, it has allocated the highest amount of money to the education and healthcare sectors respectively. Its innovative scheme to deliver ration to the beneficiaries' doorsteps promised a paradigm change in the way ration is distributed through fair price shops. In the enthusiasm to roll out the scheme as soon as possible, a group of AAP MLAs had heated arguments with the Delhi Chief Secretary at the Chief Minister's House on February 19, leading to an assault on Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash. The incident has triggered a face-off between the AAP leadership and the state bureaucrats, who are insisting on an apology from the Chief Minister. The incident saw the arrest of two AAP MLAs and a search of the Chief Minister's house by the Delhi Police. The arrested MLAs Prakash Jarwal and Amanatullah Khan have been granted bail by the Delhi High Court. The incident had put AAP on a backfoot but the High Court's decision to restore the membership of 20 disqualified AAP MLAs has vindicated the AAP's stand that the EC had taken the decision against them in an arbitrary manner. Now, Kejriwal can well think of expanding the party's reach in other states and can play a more active role in the forum of national politics. As the general elections are only a year away, AAP will be a much sought-after alliance partner for the opposition.