Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today joined a teachers' protest in Punjab's Mohali and promised to regularise their jobs if his Aam Aadmi Party is voted to power in next year's Punjab Assembly polls.
After landing at the Chandigarh airport, Arvind Kejriwal went straight to the protest site outside the Punjab School Education Board building, where teachers on contracts have been protesting for the past 165 days, demanding their jobs be regularised.
Mr Kejriwal was accompanied by AAP's state unit chief Bhagwant Mann, Punjab affairs in-charge Jarnail Singh, and the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Harpal Singh Cheema.
He asked the protesting teachers to give one chance to AAP to form the government in Punjab, claiming that his government in Delhi has improved the education system and addressed the issues of teachers in the national capital.
He slammed the Congress and the previous Akali governments for not acceding to their demand in the past.
"I came here today and I promise you that when our government comes, we will regularise you. But I want to assure you that I addressed the issues of teachers in Delhi. We will resolve issues in Punjab as well," Arvind Kejriwal said.
The AAP's national convener said he was told by protesting teachers that they were getting Rs 6,000 per month. In Delhi, the minimum wage is Rs 15,000 per month, he said.
"You give one chance. If we do not do it, then you can throw us out the next time," he said, alleging that neither the Congress nor the Akalis regularised the jobs of teachers working on contracts during their regimes.
He also accused the Charanjit Singh Channi-led government in the state of lying over its claims of regularising 36,000 contractual employees in the state.
Arvind Kejriwal alleged that a few days ago, a few sanitation workers from Punjab complained to him about not being regularized.
"When 'safai karamcharis' or teachers have not been regularised, then who has been regularized?" he asked the Congress-led government.
The AAP leader also took a dig at Punjab Education Minister Pargat Singh over his claims that Punjab had the best schools.
Arvind Kejriwal asked Pargat Singh to come and ask the protesting teachers how good the state schools are.
"They will tell their pain and then you will come to know how good the Punjab schools are. If you do not understand the problem, how will you find a solution for it," Mr Kejriwal asked as he took a swipe at Mr Singh.
Arvind Kejriwal also claimed that he was told in Ludhiana during his recent visit that there were several schools that do not have a single teacher to teach students.
Later, the Delhi Chief Minister spoke to some other protesting teachers sitting atop an overhead water tank in Mohali pressing for their demands.
The Chief Minister during his previous visit to Punjab had promised eight "guarantees" for comprehensive education reforms and promised that these would be implemented on a priority basis if his party comes to power in the state.