In his campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal has singled out Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, and launched a scathing attack on him.
HT talked to Kejriwal about corruption, communalism and his fresh offensive on Modi. Excerpts:
Q: What are the main issues for the 2014 elections?
A: This election has brought several issues to the centre stage. For instance, nobody had challenged the Gujarat model (of development) and if we (the AAP) had not challenged, it wouldn't have been an issue at all. Corruption in the media and the whole Mukesh Ambani episode are also the issues of debate.
(Kejriwal has targeted Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani over gas pricing. The company has refuted his allegations)
Q: You say 'communalism is a larger issue than corruption'. Wasn't your fight originally against corruption?
A: Communalism and corruption are two sides of the same coin. Political leaders indulge in corruption for five years and stage a communal riot just before elections. Hindus and Muslims are polarised.
Q: Then why are you targeting only Narendra Modi and not the Congress?
A: We are targeting both. (AAP leader) Kumar Vishwas is there in Amethi to defeat Rahul Gandhi.
Q: You think Gujarat model is an illusion. Then what is your take on Bharat Nirman ads?
A: No one believes that … who believes in Bharat Nirman ads? Media has actually made people believe in the Gujarat model.
Q: But isn't this your perception ( about media's role)?
A: No. In public meetings, I ask who all think there is lot of development in Gujarat. Many raise hands. But when I ask who all have been there... (the answer is) no one. Then I ask: "How do you know?" People say "the media told us". It's the media that have been propagating a lie for almost a year. It needs to be exposed.
On the other hand, ask anyone what development has Congress done? I bet if anyone agrees (on development done by the Congress). People don't believe (the Congress-led UPA's Bharat Nirman ads). So why should we raise it? But it is only AAP that has raised most of the issues of Congress' corruption.
Q: But your speeches now mention only Modi and hardly mention any of the Congress' corruption.
A: Because Congress does not exist … Congress is finished.
Q: But then, Congress-ruled states, such as Maharashtra, too have large-scale corruption. For instance the Adarsh scam.
A: During Maharashtra visit, I did say it was a state of scams. In Karnataka, I read out the list of corrupt leaders from both Congress and BJP.
Q: Your party has announced to fight on more than 300 Lok Sabha seats. Do you have enough resources in terms of men and money?
A: People have expectations from us... they are mentally and emotionally attached to us. So, it becomes their election, not ours. We had witnessed a similar process during Delhi elections. It was the people who were fighting and not the party.
This process is going to take place across the country. And 2014 is the beginning of that process. Let's not treat 2014 as the 'be all and end all' of everything. The mood of the people is good.