Nagpur (Maharashtra): AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal Thursday cancelled a public meeting in Chandrapur Lok Sabha constituency due to ill health, leaving hundreds of enthusiastic farmers disappointed.
"Kejriwal was unable to travel to Chandrapur as planned due to ill health. The meeting will be conducted under the leadership of Anjali Damania along with Raju Bhise, Vijay Pandhare and Pratibha Shinde," the Aam Aadmi Party state office said in a statement.
However, Kejriwal's Friday schedule in Nagpur will continue as planned.
Scores of progressive groups, environmentalists and agricultural activists, besides farmers' widows had decided to meet Kejriwal, but were disappointed.
"We are prepared to support him, but we have some questions for Kejriwal on which he must make his stand clear in public, especially since the AAP has been giving tickets to candidates who are pursuing downright anti-poor people policies," said Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti chief Kishore Tiwari.
Tiwari told IANS that they have prepared a set of 15 questions for Kejriwal on a wide spectrum of agriculture and economic issues.
"We are eager to know the AAP's stand on universal food security. Does he support the market economy and speculative trade in agriculture? What is his stand on genetically modified food which is playing havoc with farmers? Does the AAP support a ban on toxic food items and will it challenge the monopolies of MNCs in food and agriculture?" Tiwari said.
He said activists and farmers were very enthusiastic about the AAP's prospects in Vidarbha region, but after candidates were nominated, their enthusiasm has waned.
"For instance, AAP nominee from Chandrapur Wamanrao Chatap is an ardent proponent of GM seeds, BT cotton and simultaneously opposes universal food policy. Where will that leave the poor farmers if AAP comes to power?" Tiwari asked.
Accusing the AAP of double-speak and hypocrisy, Tiwari said party leader Prashant Bhushan is fighting for a ban on BT cotton, while in Maharashtra, Chatap who supports corporate giants has been propped up to represent the farmers' cause in parliament.
The Chandrapur-Wani-Kelapur belt has witnessed a large number of suicides by debt-ridden cotton farmers in the past few years.
A group of NGOs have written letters to the AAP, expressing shock at the developments in the state which they said were contrary to the party's principles at the national level.
"It is indeed strange that on one hand, the AAP swears to support those who pursue pro-people policies, but on the other, selects candidates who pursue diametrically opposite agenda," Tiwari said.
After Kejriwal's rally was cancelled at the last minute, the letters along with the set of 15 questions were sent to the AAP office in Nagpur.