On Monday, Arvind Kejriwal formally launched the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), saying the common man could now become a leader and policymaker. With the new party, leaders would be pitted against the common man and all other parties would find themselves contesting the people, he added.
“Now, people would no longer have to plead to reduce prices. Once they win elections and sit in Parliament, they would do it themselves,” he said, adding prices were linked to corruption. The government, which waived Rs 5 lakh crore of corporate taxes, took Rs 2 lakh crore of taxes from petrol and diesel consumers, he said. “If you were in power, which tax would you waive?” he asked. “It would take just five minutes for the government to bring down prices. But it doesn’t do it because it is in collusion with industrialists like Mukesh Ambani,” he told cheering crowds.
He added there was a shortage of liquefied petroleum gas cylinders and the prices of these would cost Rs 1,200 only because the government planned to increase the price of gas Reliance Industries supplied from gas wells in the Krishna-Godavari basin.
He said once the AAP came to power, it would pass the Lok Pal Bill within 15 days and put corrupt ministers and politicians behind bars within six months. The party was formed not to grab power but to hand over power to the people, he said. “We are not going to allocate coal blocks or 2G spectrum, but change the system and the way these are done,” he added.
The rally was marked by a rush for membership on Parliament Street here. By evening, about 15,000 forms were sold. In a few places, these were also sold in a black market, primarily due to the huge number of people from other states turning up for membership of the day of the party’s launch.
On Monday, party offices were opened in 300 districts across the country. By the end of the day, the party had collected about Rs 1.6 lakh from participants and bystanders. Former law minister Shanti Bhushan separately contributed Rs 1 crore.
Launching the party, Kejriwal, who was appointed national convenor, said an AAP government would definitely see the light of day. He, however, added the objective of the party was not to win power but to change the system and demolish all power centres.
Among the crowd were many followers of Ramdev, as well as supporters of the Anna Hazare movement. “Anna and Arvind are all one,” said a supporter.
The party’s first rally was also a test of strength for Kejriwal’s team, and, if the huge crowds that turned up were any indication, it seemed to have fared well.