Q) In the backdrop of sealing-cum-demolition drive, price hike and terrorism in the Capital, what do you think are chances of the Congress coming back to power for the third time?
These have long ceased to exist as an issue. Congress-led UPA government passed the Master Plan for Delhi in February 2007. Following this a number of areas were bought under mixed land use, bringing relief to shopkeepers across the city. As far as price hike is concerned, it is something which is not directly related to policies of the state legislature. Terrorism is an offshoot of the communal mindset for which the BJP is responsible. The BJP has sown the seeds of communal hatred with episodes like the Godhra carnage. We will explain these threadbare to our electorate.
Q) In Delhi the anti-incumbency factor is also weighing heavily against the Sheila Dikshit government?
The long list of achievements of the government will far outweigh any other factor related to anti-incumbency.
Q) Do you think delimitation of assembly seats will have an impact on the party?
Even if redrawing of constituencies do not affect the party, it will definitely have an impact on individual candidates since Congress has the largest number of sitting MLAs. But delimitation at the end of the day would be a boon for voters, as with smaller constituencies elected representatives would be able to serve better.
Q) After chief minister Sheila Dikshit, you are the most prominent face of the Congress in Delhi who can stake a claim for the CM’s post. But you have chosen to distance yourself from the hot seat.
I am not eyeing the CM’s seat, as my hands are full. Besides being a minister, I am already saddled with a lot of party responsibilities. Also, I think that the Delhi government led by Sheila Dikshit has done really well and she should be given another chance.
Q) What will be the party high command’s strategy in giving tickets in the forthcoming elections?
Winnability along with clean image of the candidate.
Q) Do you think the decision to regularise unauthorised colonies was a last ditch effort to salvage the party’s chances?
It was in 2003, during the tenure of the Congress-led UPA government, that the process to regularise these colonies started. It is wrong to link it with elections.
Similarly, the north-west parliamentary constituency has been carved out from the Outer Delhi parliamentary constituency, by adding four new assembly seats.
The fate of a number of state leaders from both the ruling Congress as well as the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) contesting from various assembly segments hangs in balance.
The BJP may have won municipal elections on three of the four wards in Ballimaran assembly segment but Delhi transport minister Haroon Yusuf may not find it difficult to retain the seat.
“Unless we have a very strong candidate who is popular across the communities, it will be difficult to pose a challenge to Yusuf,” a BJP leader accepted.
Kunwar Karan Singh, a Congress MLA from the Model Town seat, also may not get a ticket this time. This is another constituency where the BJP won elections on all municipal wards.
“The electorate is not happy with him either and it reflected in the municipal elections when we got thrashed in all four wards. We need to give ticket to a strong candidate to retain the seat,” said a senior Congress leader.
However, despite changes in their assembly segments, politicians like PWD minister Rajkumar Chauhan (Mongolpuri), Rajesh Jain (Sadar Bazar) and Anil Bhargava (Trinagar) are expected to do well.