She earned bouquets for being the youngest Delhi minister in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government. But brickbats also came thick and fast for Rakhi Birla’s nocturnal adventures on Delhi streets, including her run-ins with the Delhi Police. Contesting from northwest Delhi, Birla sheds light on her plans for the Lok Sabha polls. Excerpts from an interview:
You were a minister in 49-day AAP government. Do you think that tenure will benefit you?
As a minister, I relentlessly took the cause of Delhiites, be it the case of Neha Yadav (who was burnt for dowry in Sagarpur) or visiting homeless shelters on cold nights. People tell me they were touched by such gestures. They told me that I have managed to tame policemen. I strove hard to get 70-75 night shelters built for the homeless in various areas. My mandate was to serve people, not indulge in vote bank politics. In that case, I would have concentrated only on Mangolpuri (her assembly constituency).
Several Delhiites are unhappy over the AAP government’s resignation. How will you win back their trust?
I have not encountered anyone who may be upset with us. But if there are such people, let me assure them that no CM leaves his chair just like that. We assumed power only to serve the people. We were not allowed to function. We were often told that ‘we will withdraw support on this issue, we will not support that issue’. But we had decided that we will not compromise on fighting corruption, even if the government lasted for a day or half.
You are fighting against two-term Congress MP Krishna Tirath and the BJP’s Udit Raj. Both are very senior to you. What is your strategy?
Krishna Tirathji has not even visited the constituency even 10 times in 10 years. Udit Rajji is from Uttar Pradesh and people are not enthusiastic about him.
What are the main issues on which your campaign is based?
Corruption, communalism and inflation are the biggest issues. Women’s safety, education and rising unemployment among the youth are also important issues. Our aim is to do away with vote bank politics based on religion and caste.
Your constituency has diverse areas such as urban Rohini and rural areas such as Kanjhawala. How will you cater to such diverse groups?
I have lived in both rural and urban areas, and I know the pulse of each section. Issues such as lack of potable water, chaupals and bad roads plague rural areas. Problems for urban middle class areas include parking, gas pipeline and unemployment among youth.