Perform or perish: Kejriwal to Punjab ministers
AAP convener asks them not to lobby for transfers, postings of deputy commissioners, superintendents of police or station house officers, which was a norm during tenure of previous governments
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday told his party’s ministers and MLAs in Punjab to perform or perish, warning them against corruption, rude behaviour with people and any lobbying for postings and transfers.
He laid down the ground rules for governance during his first address to newly elected AAP MLAs in the state. Chief minister Bhagwant Mann, 10 cabinet ministers and MLAs assembled in Mohali and Kejriwal addressed them through videoconferencing. The AAP scored a historic win in Punjab polls on March 10 with 92 of the 117 seats, and its leaders are in positions of power in the state for the first time.
Beginning his speech by lavishing praise on Mann for hitting the ground running and “working wonders” in just three days, Kejriwal told the ministers that he will not congratulate them but give good wishes to fulfil their responsibilities with dedication and hard work. “Mann saab will give targets to each minister. You will have to work 30 hours in a day. If you do not meet your targets, people will say remove the minister and then you will feel bad,” he said, sharing his governance mantras.
‘Leave behind personal ambitions’
Kejriwal advised the MLAs not to get a feeling of entitlement as no one has any right over any position in a democracy, telling them to leave behind personal ambitions and work for the progress of Punjab. He also underlined the party’s constraints in accommodating the MLAs by citing limited number of slots in the cabinet. “I have heard that some legislators who could not become ministers are unhappy. We have got 92 seats (MLAs) and only 17 can be made ministers. Those who could not become ministers are not lesser than others in any way. We all have to work as a team with honesty,” he said.
All ministers, except two, who took oath on Saturday, are first-timers whereas a number of senior MLAs and giant slayers got left out. The disappointment was writ large on the face of some of them at the ministers’ swearing-in ceremony.
Putting his weight behind the Punjab CM, Kejriwal asserted that Mann is the team leader and he is there as an elder brother. He told the MLAs not to be arrogant like the bigwigs whom they defeated. “I know 90-95% of you contested for first time. Did you ever think you will be an MLA? It is a miracle that you got ticket and won, defeating bigwigs. Do not be arrogant because you have not defeated them. People have defeated them. If you behave like them, people will defeat you also,” he said.
‘Don’t get used to perks of power’
The AAP convener also asked the ministers not to sit in Chandigarh. “When we become ministers, we get used to perks of power. This is a bad habit. Every worker, MLA and minister should go to people and get the work done,” he said. Kejriwal’s governance rule for the MLAs is not to lobby for transfers and postings of deputy commissioners, superintendents of police or station house officers. “I am told that in previous governments, ministers and MLAs used to get their favourites posted as SP or SHO and then milk the system together. Mann and his cabinet will post honest officers. You can go and complain if any officer does not do people’s work or indulges in corruption, but not to get anyone transferred,” he said.
‘Can’t tolerate corruption’
Stressing on zero tolerance towards corruption, Kejriwal said he can tolerate anything, except corruption, and warned of harsh punishment if anyone is found indulging in wrongdoing. He further advised the party leaders not to be rude or use objectionable language against anyone. “I saw someone telling a SHO tainu putha tang deyanga. You do not have to say this. You have become an MLA now and can get them punished. We have to be respectful to everyone,” he said, blaming the system.
He also lavished praise on Mann for his decisions regarding the anti-corruption action line, cut in security of former ministers and MLAs, compensation to farmers for crop loss and 25,000 government jobs.
Kejriwal also congratulated Punjab affairs in-charge Jarnail Singh, co-incharge Raghav Chadha with special thanks to Sandeep Pathak for his remarkable effort in putting in place the organisation, designing the election campaign from behind the scenes.
Open office in your segments: CM to MLAs
Earlier, Mann said the performance of AAP MLAs in Delhi is assessed and those who fare poorly are denied the party tickets. “In the 2020 elections in Delhi, 22 MLAs were refused the party tickets. We will also do similar surveys,” he said, advising the MLAs to open a permanent office in their constituencies and be present there to resolve people’s problems. Punjab affairs co-incharge Raghav Chadha also spoke.