People want AAP back in power: Arvind Kejriwal
In a free-wheeling chat with Chetan Chauhan and Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, the AAP chief talks on a range of issues, including the lessons learnt and why there is 'no Modi wave' in Delhi.
Former Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal on Friday alleged that Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung seems to be “biased” against his party and was “creating scope for horse-trading by delaying the decision” on the dissolution of the Delhi assembly.
In an interview to the Hindustan Times, Kejriwal, who resigned as CM in February after 49 days in power, also challenged the BJP to try and form the government through “dishonest means”. “Let them make another attempt… I will come out with more evidence to nail them,” he said.
The Delhi Assembly has been in suspended animation since February. For several months now, the Congress and AAP have demanded its immediate dissolution to enable fresh elections.
Contending that there was no Narendra Modi wave in Delhi, Kejriwal insisted that the contest in Delhi would be between him and senior BJP leader Jagdish Mukhi, whose name had emerged for the chief minister’s post when there were talks about the BJP forming the government a few weeks ago. “Modi is PM. The contest will be between me and Mukhi,” he said.
“Unlike other states, AAP is a credible alternative to the BJP in Delhi. It will be a straight fight between us and the BJP. The Congress will not win even a single seat,” the former revenue service official said, as his supporters waved down his vehicle several times during the course of the interview to shake hands with him.
The 46-year-old AAP leader’s confidence about his party’s performance in the elections, whenever they happen, stems from the response he has received during his interactions with people, especially at various mohalla sabhas.
Kejriwal conceded that the middle-class was upset with him for resigning abruptly as they were not able to understand the rationale behind his decision.
His campaign against corruption and high power tariff in Delhi brought him rich dividends in the 2013 Assembly elections with the middle-class and the poor firmly supporting him. “If I become the CM again, I will not commit the same mistake (of resigning) again,” he said.
Read the full interview:
You have often questioned the Lieutenant Governor’s role on dissolution of Delhi Assembly?
The Lieutenant Governor has been working under the instructions of the government at the Centre, earlier the UPA and now the BJP. Obviously, both Congress and BJP have been against the AAP. The L-G is carrying out instructions that he receives from the Central government.
Are you suggesting that the L-G is biased against the AAP?
There certainly seems to be a bias. There is absolutely no scope of government formation in Delhi. Unless two parties come together, which means if Congress and AAP or Congress and BJP or BJP and AAP join hands, then only can a government be formed. By delaying Assembly dissolution, he is basically creating a scope for horse-trading. We have been repeatedly saying that the assembly should be dissolved immediately. In the last three months, BJP has tried four times to form the government by dishonest means. We gave enough evidence to the L-G when we met him last time. But nothing has been done so far.
Do you think the BJP is scared of going to polls despite the Modi wave helping the party win the Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana?
Obviously, they are scared. There is no Modi wave in Delhi. We are told that they (BJP) have done surveys in Delhi that showed that if elections are held, AAP will get win with a huge majority unlike other parts of the country where there were no credible options apart from the BJP and Congress. In Delhi, there is a credible alternative in the form of AAP which the people like. People have seen our 49 days of governance. Even our worst critics have praised us and called that period the best the country has witnessed so far.
You had threatened to expose the BJP by making public more sting operations if it makes another attempt to form the government in Delhi?
Let them make another attempt. I will come out with more evidence to nail them.
Are we headed for a Modi versus Kejriwal contest in Delhi? Where do you see the Congress?
It will be a contest between Arvind Kejriwal and Jagdish Mukhi (senior Delhi BJP leader). People have to choose either of the two. Modi is the Prime Minister. People are telling me wherever I go that we wanted Modiji to be the PM so we voted for him in Lok Sabha elections but in Delhi we want Arvind Kejriwal as the chief minister. The Congress has been completely routed and they will not even get a single seat this time. There will be a straight fight between us and the BJP.
What will be your campaign’s talking points? What will you offer to people of Delhi this time?
First and foremost, we want to provide a corruption free governance system. The second thing is to simplify procedures and laws to make doing business easy in Delhi and when I say business I mean service trade and industry. The third is to develop world class infrastructure. The 49 days of our government will be our unique selling point. During that period, commodity prices came down, electricity and water tariff was reduced. Top it all off, corruption also came down substantially. We will tell people if they want to turn those 49 days into five years, they have to give us a complete majority and not a fractured mandate. BJP cannot do what we achieved.
You have been credited with bringing the issue of corruption to the centre-stage of Indian politics but the BJP seems to be the biggest beneficiary of that movement. Does it represent your failure?
There was a huge vacuum in the country and people were fed up with corruption and with the UPA. That vacuum was created by the Anna (Hazare) movement and all that happened over the past three years. The BJP now has filled up that vacuum.
Are those issues still relevant?
All the issues that had been raised remain. Corruption has not come down, inflation is still high and the issue of bringing back black money is very much relevant still now.
Let’s see how the BJP government performs at the Centre.
The middle-class seems to be upset with you and it appears as if it has not yet forgiven you for resigning as the CM?
I agree that the middle-class is angry with us. Not just the middle class but many others, including the working class, had high hopes from us. They didn’t understand why I took that step (to resign). People have told me that you have disappointed us but at the same time they want to give us one more chance of completing our quota of five full years in power. They have rated our government very high. That kind of governance was a dream for them.
Do you regret not contesting Haryana elections?
There was a difference of opinion in the party at the time of parliamentary elections. I was personally against fighting Lok Sabha polls at that level. Obviously, we didn’t have the bandwidth to do so. People didn’t see us as a national alternative.
But it is time for us to consolidate now. That is why our national executive decided against contesting polls in Haryana. We will concentrate on other states too but that is after the Delhi elections.
How do you rate five months of Modi government?
He is a great orator, no doubt about that. He has raised the hopes of the people in sharp contrast to his predecessors. Somehow, it has been slow on action. People are now waiting for action on his promises.
If you come back to power once again, what is the one mistake that you would never repeat?
I will not resign.