Come to me for anything, Arvind Kejriwal declared today to a large group of auto and cab drivers in Ludhiana as he campaigned for the upcoming polls in Punjab– a state where his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is seen to have a fighting chance at power.
As the AAP chief interacted with a large group of auto drivers in a hall decked with balloons, he ended up accepting a dinner invite.
“I am a big fan of yours. I am an auto-wallah,” said a man, taking the mic during a q & a session.
“Sir, you help auto drivers. Sir, will you come for a meal to this poor auto-wallah’s home? I am inviting you dil se (from the heart),” he said as the room cheered encouragingly.
“Absolutely, tonight?”- Arvind Kejriwal’s response drew even louder cheering.
“Tonight only,” the auto driver said, looking delighted, even though he had apparently invited a high profile dinner guest, the Chief Minister of Delhi, at really short notice.
Mr Kejriwal asked: “Can I bring Bhagwant (Mann), (Harpal Singh) Cheema and I? We will all come.” His host accepted.
Chants of “Kejriwal zindabad (long live Kejriwal)” rose.
Mr Kejriwal, whose outreach to auto drivers has been a winning strategy in Delhi, had told his audience: “I am like your brother. Come to me for anything. Even if your auto breaks down.”
In an earlier event, the AAP chief attacked Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi for copying his campaign.
“I announced Mohalla Clinics in Punjab. Fake Kejriwal said the same thing but didn’t make even one. I will be meeting auto unions, this was planned 10 days in advance, but he went today. Darna accha hai (It’s good to be afraid),” Mr Kejriwal said.
Both Chief Ministers reached out to auto rickshaw unions on the same day, just hours apart.
The AAP leader had a similar interaction with auto and taxi drivers in Uttarakhand, which will also vote next year for a new government.
Earlier, Mr Channi had told a group of auto drivers: “In my initial days even I used to drive autos and I will waive pending challans.”