Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal has promised Punjab a big incentive for votes in next year's assembly elections -- 24-hour electricity, 300 units free for each family and a waiver on previous power bills. Pointing to Delhi, where he made similar promises ahead of polls, Mr Kejriwal said, "This is Kejriwal's promise, not Captain's vows. We deliver our promises. Captain's promises haven't been fulfilled even after 5 years".
Speaking at Chandigarh Press Club, the Delhi Chief Minister --- who has been trying to add Punjab to his bag -- said if AAP wins in Punjab, the power bill waiver promise will be met immediately.
Every household in the state will also get free electricity up to 300 units. "By doing this, around 77 per cent to 80 per cent people of Punjab will have zero electricity bill," he said.
The promise of 24X7 power supply might take up to three years to meet, he warned his audience.
Ebullient after its 2015 victory in Delhi, AAP had hoped to bag neighbouring Punjab after two years. But its promises of a host of freebies including 25 lakh jobs, Rs 5 meals, free WiFi, entrepreneurship schemes, old-age pensions and drug-free state had failed to draw enough votes.
AAP ended up with only 20 seats. The Congress scooped up 77 seats, ending the 10-year rule of the Akali-BJP government.
Indicating that the party has done its homework this time, Mr Kejriwal said they had reached out to people from across Punjab and found that they are "very unhappy" about the electricity costs. "Some women said electricity bills are sometimes of 50 per cent of the household income. How are they to manage?" he said.
Punjab generates surplus power, but has hours-long power cuts. On top of it, many people get inflated bills, he said.
"A person with two lights and a fan gets electricity bills of Rs 50,000 a month. How is this even possible? This is wrong. This will end with immediate effect. Not just that, all old arrears and pending or outstanding bills will be cancelled. No one has to pay old bills," he added.
Pointing to Delhi, he said the city does not generate any electricity but takes from different states.
"But still the electricity cost in Delhi is among the lowest in the country. How is this being done? And why should it not be done in Punjab too?" said the Delhi Chief Minister, who won a second straight term in the national capital recently.
AAP, which attributes its Delhi victory to its work in the power and education sectors, has been trying to prepare the ground in Punjab. In this, it has been competing with the state's Congress government, which also banks on populist measures.
Mr Kejriwal's reminder of the unfulfilled promises of the Amarinder Singh government is seen to be the Congress's weak point in this election. A section of Congress leaders have rebelled against Mr Singh and have been demanding that the promises be met before the elections are held, setting off a crisis within the party.