Will not defect or accept bribes: AAP Goa candidates state in affidavits

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The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) 39 election candidates in Goa on Wednesday signed affidavits declaring that they will not join any party other than the AAP after election and they will not accept bribes. The election candidates took the ‘oath’ in the presence of Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal, who arrived in Goa on Tuesday for a four-day visit to the poll-bound state. Goa goes to polls on February 14.

The candidates took the oath of loyalty to their party and that of refraining from corruption at a hotel in Dona Paula on Wednesday morning. Kejriwal said at the event, “All our candidates have signed an affidavit today. It states that if elected, they will work honestly, not accept bribes, not engage in corruption and the other is that they will not leave the AAP and go to another party. We have carefully chosen our candidates. We have ensured they are honest, have a clean image. They are all good candidates. Then why do we need this affidavit? You should not only be honest but you should also be seen to be honest. You have to make people believe that candidates can be honest,” Kejriwal said.

He said that copies of the affidavits will be distributed by respective candidates to voters in their constituencies. “We are saying that if we are dishonest and if we change our party, you can file a case against me. There can be many cases of breach of trust, of signing a false affidavit. Ek tarah se hum apne haath kaatke janata ko de rahe hai (In a way we are chopping our hands and giving them to the people). We are strengthening the people,” said Kejriwal.

Kejriwal said it was the nature of Goa’s politics that had necessitated the affidavits. “Goa’s politics is such that after winning elections, people go to other parties on a mass scale. I think it must’ve been a Guinness World Record that 15 of one party’s 17 MLAs went to another party. The response will have to be according to the politics of the place,” said Kejriwal.

After drawing a blank in the 2017 legislative assembly polls, the AAP is contesting the assembly polls in Goa for the second time. It has fielded candidates in 39 of Goa’s 40 constituencies. Lawyer and political debutant Amit Palekar was declared the party’s chief ministerial candidate in Goa. Kejriwal had earlier said that he would give Goa a chief minister from the Bhandari community.

Palekar administered the ‘oath’ in the affidavits to his fellow election candidates in Konkani. The affidavits, which bore the name of each of the candidates and their constituencies, state, “With God as my witness, I swear I will never accept bribes, I will not go to any party other than the AAP, I will devotedly serve the people of my constituency, this is my promise. If I fail to keep this promise, the people from my constituency can take action against me under the law.”

“The value of this affidavit is that this will be considered a breach of trust if anyone fails to follow this. This is a confidence-building measure among our voters. We want them to see that we are giving this in writing. We don’t need to go to a temple, mosque or church to take an oath. This is a written document that we will be giving people,” Palekar said.

The Congress had earlier taken its election candidates to a temple, a church and a mosque where they took the oath of loyalty to the Congress and swore that they would not defect to another party after election. Kejriwal said, “That is also a good thing. We don’t want to criticise anyone… But in a democracy, people are God. You should take it (oath) before the people for sure… Copies of affidavits will go to every house. After this, if anybody changes (their party), then they will also be embarrassed in front of people. Before the society, before the people and with legal sanctity,” said Kejriwal.

Kejriwal said that two problems ailed Goa’s politics. “One is too much corruption. The Goa government is one of the richest in the country and despite that people have no facilities because all the money is stolen. The other problem is that whichever ticket candidates contest from; they go to one party or another after the election. We have seen in the last few elections that whichever parties they win from they go to the BJP after the election. This is cheating the voters. In a way, this is a sale of the votes that people will give you,” he said.

He said that the AAP had found ‘gems’ in its election candidates. “If we engage in dishonesty, I won’t come to ask for votes for them again,” said Kejriwal.

“There are only two options in Goa. The AAP and the BJP. If you don’t vote for the AAP, the MLA from any other party you vote for will go to the BJP in the end. We’ve seen this. Vote Congress or Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), they will go to the BJP. Vote for anyone else, they will go to the BJP. This time, the BJP has resorted to a clever tactic. Before the election, it has gotten its people into the Congress and they are contesting on Congress tickets so that the BJP gets seats in Catholic areas…”

On his visit to Goa on Sunday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said that the AAP made lofty promises to the people of Goa because the party does not have to bother about meeting these expectations since it was not going to win a single seat.

“Amit Shah ji will be in for a surprise on the day of the (election) results,” Kejriwal said.

He said that Shah had accused his party of giving things for free to the people. “I want to ask Amit Shah ji, how many units of electricity does his house in Delhi get for free? If he gets free electricity, it’s fine. If people get 300 units of electricity for free, it upsets Amit Shah? This is wrong. Whose money is it? It’s the people’s money. Amit Shah can get free electricity with people’s money but people cannot get free electricity with their money? What kind of logic is this?” Kejriwal said.

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