Party wanted to contest LS polls, not me: Kejriwal | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Party wanted to contest LS polls, not me: Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal feels much has changed since he quit his 49-day government in February this year. The anger among people is fading and the party is now on a much stronger wicket ahead of the assembly elections, he says.

delhi Updated: Dec 13, 2014 09:47 IST
HT Correspondent
Aam Aadmi Party
Kejriwal-says-that-his-party-is-on-a-stronger-wicket-and-will-take-on-the-BJP-in-a-direct-contest-in-the-upcoming-Delhi-assembly-elections-Sonu-mehta-ht-photo

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal feels much has changed since he quit his 49-day government in February this year. The anger among people is fading and the party is now on a much stronger wicket ahead of the assembly elections, he says.

Talking to senior editors of Hindustan Times as part of the Unplugged at HT series, Kejriwal accused the BJP of trying to fan communal tension for electoral gains. The former Delhi CM said that he was not in favour of fighting Lok Sabha elections, but the party overruled him.

He said that he would like to fight from the New Delhi constituency again.

Kejriwal listed out the lessons that he had learnt during the last one year. Excerpts from the open session with the AAP leader:

“BJP’s riots ploy is backfiring”

Riots are happening in Trilokpuri, Bawana, they even tried to do it in Seemapuri. My assessment is that it’s backfiring. They engineer riots and spread the message that only the BJP can save Hindus. But no community wants riots. In Bawana they made hate speeches but people protested. The communal card is not working. People don’t want to vote for a party which will trigger riots. People didn’t vote for the BJP (in LS polls) to face communal tension. People want peace in their lives.

What has changed for AAP in the past one year

We are on a much stronger wicket. Last year, we were seen as good people but not good enough to win. Rivals and media opinion polls wrote us off completely. Our biggest challenge was to convince people that we were serious contenders. Now, 99.5% people in Delhi recognise our party and our political symbol -- ‘jhaadu’. Today, we are in direct contest with the BJP. Last time, people doubted our governance capabilities. They have now seen our work in the 49 days vis-à-vis the 180-days of the BJP government at the Centre. When we talk of women safety, children’s education, we see an expression on people’s faces, which is that of hope and support. Our support base among women is more than that among men. It was the same last time round too.

In both Haryana and Maharashtra (where assembly polls were held recently) people had no alternative. This is not the case in Delhi since there is no anti-incumbency here and people have a clear alternative in AAP.

‘Lt. Governor was partisan’

Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung has been partisan and his role is questionable (in deciding the fate of the assembly). Also, there was zero governance during President’s rule. No department has spent more than 10% of its budget despite the fact that 75% of the financial year is already over. This is the kind of governance you get when you have a puppet L-G. So, if tomorrow you have a puppet CM this is the kind of government you will get. Once elections are announced, the L-G won’t have a major role.

‘I am not soft on Modi’

I actually never spoke against any individual. I raised corruption cases against Robert Vadraji. I never made any comment on (former Congress minister) Salman Khurshidji and I never spoke against Mukesh Ambaniji. As far as the present government is concerned, I wrote an article that Modi kept silent on issues such as the removal of (AIIMS chief vigilance officer) Sanjiv Chaturvedi and hike in medicine prices. I have been asking why Modi is keeping quiet. I will keep raising such issues. This government came to power on the promise of controlling inflation. The first thing they did was increase sugar prices. They increased railway fares, they increased electricity tariff. Before Modi flew to the US they increased the prices of 108 medicines, I’ve been saying all this. They said they would eradicate corruption and I’ve been exposing their claims.

Even Modiji is ultimately asking people to vote for ‘Jhaadu’ (laughs). A caricature of Modiji is being circulated on social media where he is seen with a Jhaadu asking people to vote for it.

‘People quitting AAP is a myth’

Shazia Ilmi is the only leader of stature who has left us, we concede that. There is no second name. People like Captain Gopinath joined us on one news channel and announced his resignation on the other. About a hundred people left the BJP but you never ran a story. An impression is being created that people are leaving AAP in large numbers. In the last six months, at least 20,000 volunteers have joined AAP. People come and go but what is important is that we are on the right track. It’s a tough journey and good thing is that the driver knows the way.

‘Party, not I, wanted to contest LS Polls’

We should have concentrated on fewer seats. I told the media that we shouldn’t contest LS polls on January 3. But the political affairs committee of the party overruled me. That’s internal democracy at work. Now the strategy is to re-consolidate in Delhi.

Rail Bhawan dharna

I don’t think it was a mistake, you can question the manner in which it was done. Sleeping on the road in biting cold is not a drama. People said a chief minister should not sit on a dharna, but there are examples of Modi, Shivraj Chauhan, Nitish Kumar of doing so. You may disagree with some of the statements, you may disagree with the timing (ahead of the Republic Day) but it was done to seek justice for a woman who was burnt for dowry and people appreciated it. Questioning the right to protest is wrong. It is a legitimate right under the Constitution.