Delhi state president of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Vijender Gupta (47) completes one year in office on May 16. A young leader, Gupta's tenure as the chairman of the standing committee in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi is considered highly successful. He also contested parliamentary elections in 2009 but lost. Excerpts from an interview:
When the party chose you as the president for Delhi one year ago, it was plagued with various problems. The Delhi unit was completely out of sync with the issues that time. There was infighting in the cadre. How would you sum up your one year as Delhi state president of the BJP?
I think the past one year was really challenging. It was a very crucial time when I had taken over.
With three consecutive wins the Congress government in Delhi was very arrogant and there were massive shortcomings in the preparations for the Commonwealth Games. Our cadre was enthusiastic and we immediately launched a 14-day campaign against government's connivance with the private discoms to increase electricity tariff.
Our call for Delhi bandh in July first week was very successful and we managed to put the government in the dock over various issues. We kept a close eye on the preparations for the Games and kept highlighting the shortcomings. With our agitations we never gave government a free hand.
The Congress government in Delhi is all set to divide the civic body in smaller segments. Would your party protest any such move of the Congress?
With this move chief minister Sheila Dikshit is contradicting the constitutional provisions. The local body is being weakened, demoralised and disturbed. The intention is malafide. In 1997, the government had created 12 zones in Delhi. Then again in 2007 the number of municipal wards was increased to 272. How many times the government wants to tinker with the system? If it thinks the smaller bodies can be administrated better, then it should strengthen the 12 zones.
Will your party launch an intensive agitation against the move?
We oppose the move. I think we need to be more open minded. There was no scientific methodology adopted to decide that the number of wards should be increased to 408 and the body should be fragmented into five. There are vested interests involve. It has less academics and more politics, the issue needs to be discussed academically.
The municipal elections are just a few months away. Has the BJP worked out its strategy for the elections?
Our strategy is very simple. We want to go to the elections on the basis of our work. There have always been complaints of corruption in the civic body. Its credibility has always been an issue in the public. And we have always believed that it was important to make the municipal corporation transparent.
On June 15, we are going to introduce e-governance system in Municipal Corporation of Delhi. It will be the first totally digitised, completely e-governed municipal body in the country. We have linked the biometric attendance system with salary computation system. RTIs, tendering process and birth and death certificate system, everything will be online. It will help eliminate corruption from the municipal body.
The BJP has been talking about "infusing young blood" within the organisation as well as the at all public representative bodies. Are we going to see the same trend in municipal elections next year?
By appointing me as the state party chief last year, the leadership had made it clear that it wanted to have young blood at all levels. We are going to continue the trend. The appointment of young party workers as the head at the district levels was a step towards that. We chose a young, dynamic leader who could connect with people and lead us in elections as the mayor of the city.The trend will continue in the municipal elections with more young and dynamic leaders contesting this time. I have been looking after the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the party's youth wing.I believe the municipal elections can prove good platform for young party workers to prove their calibre.