The stage is set for the Delhi elections. And it is going to be a three-cornered contest this time. While the incumbent Congress is looking at a record fourth consecutive win, it faces a serious challenge from traditional opponent the Bharatiya Janata Party and the rookie Aam Aadmi Party. Fifteen days before the city goes to polls, chief minister Sheila Dikshit discusses the distribution of tickets, the challenge posed by AAP and her own achievements. Excerpts:
Your party was initially of the view that all sitting MLAs should not be given the party ticket to counter anti-incumbency. Also, no tainted candidate will be fielded. But not only you have repeated all sitting legislators, except one, some of them have criminal cases too?
We discussed the issue at length. See, the compulsion of winnability becomes very important. But we have not given ticket to any criminal. The Okhla MLA is not a criminal. The police commissioner said there were no cases pending against him. The Rajouri Garden legislator was indicted in a case so we dropped him and gave a ticket to his wife. I don’t see anti-incumbency against our government since we have worked so much.
There is a perception that the Congress campaign lacks sting?
Most people, specially the MLAs, have already started campaigning in their areas. A lot of door-to-door campaigning is going on. There will be more public meetings in the next 3-4 days. Rahul (Gandhi) has already had two meetings. Rallies by PM Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are scheduled. Kejriwal is going around everywhere but that is not our style.
What went wrong at the Rahul rally? Have people started deserting the Congress?
It was a miscalculation. It was Guru Nanak Ji’s birthday and Karthik Purnima on Sunday. That was the reason why the number of people was fewer than what we had expected. We will ensure such mistakes are not repeated. But I don’t think it was a bad meeting. I don’t think you should take these things too seriously.
You had once said Aam Aadmi party was not a serious contender. Do you think it is going to dent your vote share?
I still think they are not serious players. A political party does not evolve by just making announcements. AAP does not even know how the system works. You can’t have an assembly session at the Ramlila Ground. Bringing Lokpal Bill is the privilege of Parliament. Delhi has its Lokayukta already. They said they will bring electricity tariff down by 30% but they don’t even know how they will do it.
The opposition have made corruption, price rise and law and order big issues this time?
Opposition has levelled the charges of corruption against us. But just because you (Aam Aadmi Party) are saying it does not mean that we are corrupt. BJP says women are raped in Delhi. I want to ask them if a woman was raped in your own house, how will you stop it?
What are your achievements?
In terms of infrastructure, Delhi Metro and international airport are our biggest achievements. Our GDP is 10.33% against the national average of 8.32%.
Do you think Narendra Modi will have an impact on Delhi elections?
See, this is a state assembly election. I don’t see him having any impact.