February 1, 2023

Perform or perish, Arvind Kejriwal tells new ministers and MLAs in Punjab

The AAP chief said all the newly elected leaders and ministers would be given targets, failing to meet which they may lose the responsibilities entrusted to them.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday told the party’s newly elected MLAs and ministers in Punjab to perform well or perish and cautioned them that heads would roll if they indulged in corruption.

He was addressing the leaders virtually days after the AAP’s resounding victory in the Assembly polls in the state by winning 92 of the 117 seats in the House. Earlier this week, party leader Bhagwant Mann took oath as the Chief Minister of Punjab and later inducted 10 MLAs as ministers in his Cabinet on Saturday.

Kejriwal reminded the leaders that nobody had the right to any post, that everyone would be given responsibilities and they would have to work round the clock. He added that failing to meet the targets could cause them to lose their responsibilities.

In a straight talk with the legislators and ministers, the Delhi chief minister said, “I will not congratulate those ministers who were sworn in yesterday. Rather, I will give them best wishes. I pray to God that you will come true to the expectations of people. As Mann Sahib (Bhagwant Mann) has said, we have wasted 70 years and are short of time. Mann Sahib will give you targets. A day of 24 hours will not be enough. You will have to work 30 hours a day. If you do not meet the targets, then people will say change the minister. Then you will feel bad, but we will have no option but to replace you.”

Recalling Mann’s advice to legislators, Kejriwal said, “During his first address to MLAs, Mann Sahib had asked you not to sit in Chandigarh; every MLA, every minister will be among the people 24×7. He will hit the streets, meet people, go to each household and listen to people.”

“I am told that some MLAs who could not become ministers are upset. We have got 92 seats. Only 17 will become ministers. It is not that those MLAs who could not become ministers are less competent. The people of Punjab have elected diamonds. You all are diamonds. You all are capable, but all 92 of us have to work hard as a team. If we will not work like a team, but keep aspirations and greed at the forefront, Punjab will lose. It is important for Punjab that we all work as a team,” the AAP chief added.

Kejriwal congratulated Mann for ordering payment of compensation for crop loss, setting up an anti-corruption helpline and announcing 25,000 jobs for the youth. “In three days, Mann Sahib tussi kamaal kar ditta. These are remarkable announcements. People’s hope is now turning into confidence. May God bless you with power and strength to help the people of Punjab,” he said.

Asking the legislators and ministers to see Mann as their leader, he said, “I am like your elder brother. I am always there. But you have to work as Bhagwant Mann’s team. If someone becomes a minister then he has a responsibility. Everybody will get some responsibility.”

In the same breath he said, “Do not take pride that you are giant killers. You have not defeated the stalwarts. People have defeated them. If people can defeat others, they can defeat you also. You work so hard as an MLA in your area that your reputation travels. People should love you so much. Some people say that they have a right to a certain post. Just remember that nobody has a right. Just remember this is a democracy. When people get angry, they remove even the big guns, even the CMs. Our predecessors also thought they were born to be CMs. But the people defeated them. Do not let things come to such a pass that they remove us also. “

Conveying that the party’s government would not post officials on the recommendations of MLAs, Kejriwal asked them not to come with any ‘sifarish’ (recommendations). “Do not seek postings from the CM. Go and meet him for public works by all means. But do not put in a word for postings. I am told this is how the previous regimes worked… But not anymore. Mann Sahib will decide on postings after choosing upright officers. Leave it to your CM and ministers,” he said.

“We have said it umpteen times that we will run our government with honesty, that Mann Sahib is brutally honest. People have hopes from us. I cannot tolerate dishonesty. I cannot tolerate theft of people’s money. If I get to know, or Mann Sahib gets to know that someone has committed a wrongdoing, then we will not give you another chance. If you do anything wrong then you be ready for the punishment. We will give you more opportunities if you are unable to meet your targets but dishonesty and corruption would not get you another opportunity. Not even the first mistake would be tolerated. People will not tolerate this.”

Asking MLAs not to misbehave with employees and officials, Kejriwal said, “I watched a video in which someone was telling a police officer that he would hang him upside down. Does this kind of language befit us? Respect everyone. Be it the opposition, rivals, employees, doctors or teachers. They are not to be blamed. It is the system.”

Recalling his Delhi experience, he said, “When we formed the government in Delhi, we respected all doctors, teachers. They worked wonders in tandem with us. We have to work in unison with police officers, doctors and teachers. We have to change the system. Fold your hands and tell them that times have changed and they should also change. Work with everyone.”

“People have given us so much love. Wives and children of some political leaders have voted for us,” he reminded everyone and congratulated leaders including Punjab AAP in-charge Jarnail Singh, co-incharge, Raghav Chadha and Dr Sandeep Pathak.