AAP woos Punjab Dalits with deputy CM promise; manifesto

Chandigarh, Nov 25 (IANS) With just over two months to go for assembly elections in the state, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday announced that it will have a Dalit leader as the state’s Deputy Chief Minister if the party is voted to power.

The announcement was made by AAP National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal while releasing the party’s Dalit manifesto for the state at Goraya near Jalandhar on Friday.

Punjab has a sizeable Dalit population — over 30 per cent of its 2.8 crore population is from the Dalit community. This is the highest Dalit ratio among all states. The Doaba belt, comprising districts of Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr, has a sizeable Dalit population.

Kejriwal said this is for the first time in India’s political history that a party had announced that its Deputy Chief Minister would be a Dalit leader.

“We don’t want to use Dalits as a votebank but want to involve them in government functioning,” Kejriwal told media after releasing the manifesto.

However, the AAP, which has been facing internal turmoil in the last three months in its Punjab unit, has not yet announced the name of any leader to be its chief ministerial face.

The AAP, which has announced the names of 80 candidates for the 117-member assembly, has already released its manifestoes for the youth, farmers and industry.

In the Salit manifesto, AAP has promised low-cost housing scheme for Dalits, registration of Dalit houses to enable them get loans, cooperative societies for Dalits, sanction of tube-wells and a special investigation team to investigate atrocities against Dalits.