‘Modi-bashing also a way of targeting corruption’ | punjab | Hindustan Times
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‘Modi-bashing also a way of targeting corruption’

After Arvind Kejriwal, his is arguably the most recognisable face from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). YogendraYadav isn’t only a key member of think tank but also the chief spokesperson of the fledgling party whose dramatic emergence on the political horizon has set the established players thinking.

punjab Updated: Apr 01, 2014 09:26 IST
Navneet Sharma

After Arvind Kejriwal, his is arguably the most recognisable face from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). YogendraYadav isn’t only a key member of think tank but also the chief spokesperson of the fledgling party whose dramatic emergence on the political horizon has set the established players thinking. The former psephologist is presently grappling with the rough-and-tumble of electoral politics in Gurgaon Lok Sabha constituency.


HT assistant editor Navneet Sharma poses some questions to Yadav who, along with Kejriwal, never misses any opportunity to question the polity in the country. Excerpts from the interview:

How is the response to your party?
I have left my previous occupation of forecasting elections and am yet to learn the new language. I will not be able to say it is 11 out of 10 seats. With every politician making bombastic claims, what is the point?

AAP is trying to expand too fast, which has led to dissensions, revolts and slip-ups in the selection of candidates. Is this the correct strategy?
It is true that we are in hurry and expanding rapidly. In my view, the only way to expand in politics is to do it in a hurry. The idea that a party becomes local to national slowly and gradually does not work. It hasn’t happened in history. These things always happen with a jerk. There is a cost to it. There are pains involved in it.

What is the target? Is it to fill the space being vacated by the Congress or carve a niche for the party?
Clearly, there is a new niche. We are an anti-establishment party. We may look anti-Congress in Delhi and anti-BJP in Gujarat. We would take on whoever is the big establishment. We cannot be pro this or that formation or even fly-bynight third fronts. We don’t see ourselves substituting the Congress or being a natural ally of any third front.

You and your party have moved from anti-corruption rhetoric to Modi-bashing on Hindutva. Why no mention of corruption in your speeches lately?
Narendra Modi (BJP prime ministerial candidate) has a different meaning in different parts of the country. Much of Kejriwal’s critique on Modi has been on corruption. Much of my criticism of Modi is also on corruption, lack of development and his claims. In places such as Mewat (a Meo Muslim-dominated area in Haryana), if I talk about farmers’ suicides there, it does not make sense. There is something more tangible that is to be touched. If you don’t speak about it, people will think that like Congress, you don’t have the courage to discuss it. Modi-bashing is also a way of targeting corruption.

Who are your principal opponents in Gurgaon?
There are four main candidates, including me. By all accounts, Rao Inderjit (Singh) is a serious contender. The Congress has not put up a serious candidate. The candidate fielded by the INLD is someone who is there to deflect Meo votes. That’s my sense.

There is an impression that you are focusing more on Mewat. Why?
I am going to all areas. This is the funny game of the media. You do 10 things, they pick up only two. It would be silly on my part to focus on only three segments. It is also true that I am focusing on the game being played by the INLD and the BJP. There is an unholy alliance between them. I am trying to tell the voters in Mewat about it.

Your speeches are never complete without media-bashing. Then, you give tickets to journalists and flash newspaper clippings to target rivals. Why this contradiction?
There is a difference between the character of the journalist and the character of the media. An overwhelming majority of journalists are honest professionals. But they are small cog in a wheel called media. The character of the media is determined by the ownership pattern. Our critique of the character of the media should not be seen as a reflection of the character of journalists. We should be more careful in drawing that distinction. I wish my colleagues were equally careful. But the direction that the media is taking should be interrogated. In democracy, no one should be above interrogation.

The Lok Sabha polls are being seen as the “semifinal” before the assembly polls in Haryana. How are your candidates doing?
I prefer the base camp and final summit sort of metaphor. We need a base to begin with. If we do not succeed in getting that base, the final challenge would be much, much steeper. I hope we would have a strong base.

As you are being seen as the AAP’s chief ministerial candidate in Haryana, if you win from Gurgaon, would you still contest the assembly elections?
One of my colleagues, Kumar Vishwas, talked about it, but the party hasn’t made any such announcement. There are so many ifs and buts. I don’t want to get into that.