Aam Aadmi Party convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday promised free-of-cost pilgrimage to various religious places if his party is voted to power in Goa.
At a press conference, Kejriwal said that if his party wins the state Assemby polls, it will offer free pilgrimage to Ayodhya for the Hindus, Velankanni for the Christians, Ajmer Sharif for the Muslims and Shirdi for those wish to go there.
“I am not promising anything new,” Kejriwal said. “In Delhi, our chief minster’s pilgrimage scheme is going on for a few years. We started it three years ago but it stopped due to the coronavirus two years ago. In the first year, we took more than 35,000 people for pilgrimage.”
He said that the government bears all the expenses for the trips, including travel via air-conditioned trains, and stay at hotels.
Free pilgrimage is the third promise made by the Aam Aadmi Party in Goa, ahead of the Assembly elections that will be held in the state early next year.
In September, Kejriwal had promised to bring a law to reserve 80% of the jobs in private sector for locals, if voted to power. He had also pledged to provide an unemployment allowance of Rs 3,000 every month if a family does not get a job assured by him.
The Delhi chief minister had also said that under his administration households would get 300 units of free electricity and promised uninterrupted power supply.
On Monday, Kejriwal said that since his promises last month, over 1.2 lakh youth have registered in the Aam Aadmi Party’s Rozgaar (employment) Guarantee scheme. He said this constitutes about 25% to 30% of Goan families.
“If people come forward and register in such huge numbers on the promises of a political party, this shows that people have confidence in the Aam Aadmi Party,” Kejriwal said.
He reiterated his free electricity plans and said that 2.90 lakh families have registered for the Bijli (electricity) guarantee scheme. The Aam Aadmi Party’s convenor said that registrations covered 70-75% of families in the state.
Kejriwal also hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress in the state. He claimed that both parties blame each other for corruption but do not take action against each other after they form governments in the state.
“[Goa Chief Minister] Pramod Sawant ji said a very interesting thing that our government [Bharatiya Janata Party] will be formed but the Congress will be in the Opposition,” Kejriwal said. “They have already sat down and decided on it.”
The Delhi chief minister also levelled corruption allegations against the BJP govenrment in the state. He said that former Goa Governor Satya Pal Malik, who is a BJP leader, has accused his own party’s government in the state of corruption.
“BJP’s governor is accusing his own party’s chief minister that he is the most corrupt chief minister,” Kejriwal said.
Malik, who is presently the governor of Megalaya, had said in an interview that there was corruption in everything the BJP-led Goa government did.
“I was removed for my allegation of corruption against the Goa government,” Malik had claimed. “I am a Lohiaite; I have spent time with Charan Singh; I can’t tolerate corruption.”
In the 2017 Goa Assembly election, the Congress had won 17 seats, while the BJP won 13 seats. However, the saffron party succeeded in forging an alliance with regional parties and formed a government under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar. The Aam Aadmi Party had not won any seats in the last state polls.
This year, the Trinamool Congress is also in the fray. On September 29, former Goa Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro had joined the Trinamool Congress in Kolkata, two days after quitting the Congress. Faleiro had said that he was joining the Trinamool Congress because Goa needed a credible alternative.