Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said he was ready to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections if the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) wanted, but ruled out his nomination as the rookie party’s prime ministerial candidate.
In interviews with two TV channels, Kejriwal defended the actions of his party and aides, including law minister Somnath Bharti, which have drawn criticism for being populist and irresponsible.
Exuding confidence about the AAP’s performance in the upcoming general elections, he said the outcome was expected to mirror what happened in Delhi.
“Congress will face defeat in general elections as well. They will lose the way they lost in Delhi. Delhi will be repeated at the national level,” NDTV news channel quoted him as saying.
“If need be, I will fight the Lok Sabha elections. I will do what the party wants.”
Kejriwal also told the channel that he would like to tell Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi that “people do not vote for people who make good and interesting speeches”. His remarks come a day after Gandhi launched a scathing attack on political opponents in an articulate speech at a Congress meet.
The AAP, which surprised pollsters and political analysts with its stellar debut in the Delhi assembly elections held last month, depends on the support of the Congress party, which lost power to the rookie party, for a legislative majority.
Kejriwal, however, said his party would not backtrack on the any of the decisions it has made since coming to power 21 days ago, even if it means antagonising the Congress party.
“Congress can withdraw support anytime. We did not seek their support. We don’t care. We are not worried,” he told CNN-IBN.
The Delhi chief minister lauded the AAP government’s performance in Delhi, saying the party had kept its promise of slashing water bills and power tariff.
He also told the channel that the party had brought an end to the VIP culture and now “CAG can conduct audits on telecoms”.
“People are creating an environment that AAP can’t run a govt,” he added, referring to the volley of criticism — over a failed janata darbar that led to a stampede-like situation, a party legislator’s rebel and a minister stepping into the shoes of a vigilante, among other issues.
Besides, Kejriwal also faced criticism within his party after he barred foreign supermarkets from setting up shop.
“You have to transfer the power into the hands of the people,” Kejriwal told NDTV, reiterating his pro-people stand.
Refuting allegations that AAP is the B-team of the Congress, he said, “We are not being used by the Congress to stop (BJP’s PM nominee Narendra) Modi.”
“The impression that Kejriwal is soft on Congress will end in some days.”
Stressing his anti-corruption agenda, he told CNN-IBN, “I have talked to the Lieutenant Governor regarding the removal of the some of the anti-corruption officers appointed by the previous (Congress) government.”