New York: Arvind Kejriwal today assured his supporters in the US that he will not repeat the "mistake" of resigning if the Aam Aadmi Party returns to power in Delhi and dismissed the notion that the party is falling apart, saying the brakes and clutch of his AAP bus are working fine.
Kejriwal, who had a packed schedule in the city yesterday, acknowledged to AAP volunteers and supporters during a meeting here that the party made a "wrong political assessment" of resigning 49 days after coming to power in Delhi in a stunning debut last year.
AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal. Pic: AFP
The 46-year-old Kejriwal assured volunteers that he will not repeat the mistake as he asked for support ahead of the elections due in Delhi.
"At that time we had thought that if we resign, there will be elections soon" and the party would come back stronger," the AAP founder told about 200 volunteers wearing the trademark white cap and holding banners and placards. Kejriwal said the party had not thought that elections would not be conducted and that President's rule would be imposed in the city that would go on for about 11 months.
"This was a wrong political assessment, that was a mistake. This time we will not resign," he said. Kejriwal also hit out at those saying that the party is falling apart since its leaders like Shazia Illmi have left. He said people have been saying that the party is falling apart because its leaders are leaving.
He said people don't acknowledge that while only one person has left the party, thousands of volunteers have joined it. "Efforts are being made to confuse people. But the brakes and clutch of the Aam Aadmi Party bus are working fine and the driver knows the way, have faith in the driver," he said, adding that people keep joining and leaving a company, party or an organisation for various reasons.
Kejriwal also took a potshot at those criticising him for travelling in business class or for wearing a branded sweater, saying that a lot of things that AAP does will be over-hyped. "Why does he travel in business class, from where did he get an Adidas sweater," he said amid laughs from the crowd.
"BJP has no agenda today. We say will we will open 20 new colleges in Delhi and the BJP says it will not let girls wear jeans. We say we will put CCTV cameras across the city for the protection of women, BJP will say it will not let people celebrate Valentine's day.
That is the difference between the two parties," he said. When asked why he had resigned from his post of Chief Minister, Kejriwal said if AAP had secured full majority in the last elections, "we would not have resigned at any cost. "We joined politics for systemic changes. We did a lot of good work in the 49 days.
We provided good governance but we could not change the system," he said adding that in order to bring systemic changes the party needed majority in the legislature. Kejriwal said in hindsight, he feels the party should have consulted the people before taking the decision to resign.
Kejriwal said the feedback from the people has been that AAP provided very good governance in the 49 days it was in power and they "want that governance back".
People are saying that the systemic changes like Lokpall bill that AAP wanted to bring about could have waited for some time, Kejriwal said adding that citizens had got relief from bribery, corruption and rising prices during AAP's tenure. He said the party had intended to pass many bills, including the Lokpall.
"That is the reason that the people are angry with us. They said you should have continued, provided good governance as long as you are there and when you have the majority you could have brought the systemic changes," he said. He said AAP had not wanted to form a government with the Congress party "but overwhelmingly" people told them to do so.
"Similarly before resigning we should have consulted the people," he added. He said AAP's journey started four years ago with the Anna andolan and acknowledged the support of the NRIs and Indian diaspora in strengthening the party."We wanted corruption free India.
This was our goal. That goal is still before us. India is not corruption free yet," he said. Terming AAP's win the New Delhi elections as a "milestone", Kejriwal said he had his doubts about whether it is possible to fully rid India of corruption.
"Indians are first rate citizens who are victims of third grade governance. We have talent, human and natural resources in abundance. But the problem is governance. If the governance is improved then we can leave behind many countries of the world," he said as the crowd cheered and applauded. Kejriwal said in the last elections, the party had the intent and passion to bring about changes in Indian politics.
"After being in the government for 49 days we now have the confidence that India can become corruption free," he said. Urging Indians living abroad to work for the betterment of India, Kejriwal expressed confidence that in some years, opportunities would be created in India that would lure its citizens working in foreign lands to return to their home country.
On how India can achieve high growth rate, he said the growth model that should be followed must be development without corruption and not development with corruption. "If there is development with corruption, then the development is for a select people and a lot of people are left outside the scope of growth.
"If the GDP grows only because a few families in ourcountry, not even corporates, but a few families grow at a very exponential rate, (that growth) will be at the cost of the rest of the population," he said. AAP supporters gave a resounding welcome to Kejriwal, who was swamped by the large number of people as they jostled to take pictures with him. Women and children cheered Kejriwal as supporters shouted slogans calling for AAP rule in New Delhi.