With its eyes set on the Gujarat elections later this year, Aam Aadmi Party is ramping up its events in the state. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann kicked off their two-day Gujarat trip with a visit to the Sabarmati Ashram.
The two leaders were seen spinning the charkha at the 'Hriday Kunj' in Mahatma Gandhi's Ashram. Hriday Kunj used to be the residential quarters of Mahatma Gandhi and his wife Kasturba Gandhi.
The leaders then also visited the museum inside the Ashram.
Sabarmati Ashram was a key centre throughout India's freedom struggle. Mahatma Gandhi started his historic Dandi March against the British Salt Law from this Ashram.
While addressing the media post a tour of the Ashram, Mr Kejriwal said, "I feel gratitude to be born in the same country as Gandhiji. This is my first visit since I became Delhi Chief Minister. But I used to come here as an activist as well."
आज गुजरात के साबरमती आश्रम जाने का सौभाग्य मिला। यह आश्रम एक आध्यात्मिक स्थान है, ऐसा प्रतीत होता है कि जैसे यहाँ गांधी जी की पूज्य आत्मा बसती है। यहाँ आकर आध्यात्मिक अनुभूति होती है। मैं स्वयं को धन्य मानता हूँ कि मैं भी उस देश में पैदा हुआ जिस देश में गाँधी जी पैदा हुए। pic.twitter.com/oUg2yOGMlq- Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) April 2, 2022
Bhagwant Mann said, "I come from a land of freedom fighters-Punjab. I got to see a lot here. Gandhi Ji's letters and the various movements he spearheaded. Charkha is part of every other household in Punjab. My mother and grandmother also use it. I have seen the Charkha being used since my childhood. We are nationalist people and we love the nation. This is my first visit to Gujarat since I became Punjab CM."
मुख्यमंत्री, दिल्ली @ArvindKejriwal जी के साथ साबरमती आश्रम में महात्मा गांधी जी को श्रद्धांजलि दी।- Bhagwant Mann (@BhagwantMann) April 2, 2022
गांधी जी के आश्रम में आज़ादी की लड़ाई के दौरान इस्तेमाल हुईं वस्तुएं देखने को मिली जैसे कि उनके लिखे पत्र। गांधी जी के आदर्श सिर्फ भारत नहीं, बल्कि पूरी दुनिया को प्रेरणा देते हैं pic.twitter.com/n8UKokMVHD
Mr Kejriwal refused to answer political questions from the media and said, "Ye pavitra sthaan hai. Rajneeti ki batein bahar" (This is a pure place. All political talks will be done outside.)
In the Ashram's Visitor's Book, Mr Kejriwal wrote, "This Ashram is a spiritual place. It feels like Gandhi ji's soul resides here. I also feel spiritual on coming here."
Later, the officials at the Sabarmati Ashram presented the two AAP leaders with miniature charkhas and a book on Mahatma Gandhi's life.
Speaking to NDTV on the AAP leaders' visit, Communicator at Sabarmati Ashram Lata Parmar said, "Both were happy to be here. They also tried to use the Charkha. Bhagwant Mann ji said that he has seen the Charkha from his childhood but the one used in Punjab is different from the one that belongs to Gandhi ji."
On being asked about whether the staff of the Ashram gets affected by questions that get raised on the political intent of such visits, she said, "We cannot find out what is the intent with which people come here. But when people come here then irrespective of designation, they imbibe the spiritual values of Gandhi ji. People feel inspired by Gandhiji and his struggle."
Invoking freedom fighters and their struggle has been a part of AAP's campaign for quite some time. During the Punjab campaign freedom fighter Bhagat Singh's ideology and his heroic acts were repeatedly highlighted. Mr Mann even took his oath as Chief Minister at Bhagat Singh's ancestral village. It is believed that AAP has taken up the issue to have a unique political identity.
Later today Mr Kejriwal and Mr Mann will hold a two-kilometre roadshow in Ahmedabad, which the party is calling 'Tiranga Yatra'. On Sunday, the leaders will visit the Swaminarayan temple in Ahmedabad.