Lok Sabha elections 2019| ‘Both AAP and Cong are on slippery ground’: Meenakshi Lekhi
Meenakshi Lekhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) candidate from the New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency, is contesting elections for the second time. A Supreme Court lawyer and the BJP’s national spokesperson, Lekhi will take on Congress’s Ajay Maken, a two-time MP from the seat, and Brijesh Goyal, a first-timer from the AAP.
In an interview with HT, Lekhi talks about her priorities, which she says is beyond the political narrative of sealing. She asserts that on May 12, residents of New Delhi will vote for improved quality of life and national security, in the larger interest of the country. Excerpts:
Q. If you have to pick three key issues in the New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency as priorities, what would they be?
A. The first thing I will do is to launch ‘Swachh Bharat 2.0’ (clean India). Furthering the clean India campaign will be my first priority for the New Delhi seat. A lot still has to be done in the domestic waste and sewerage sectors. In the first phase, we focused on personal hygiene by cleaning our neighbourhoods and building toilets. Now, the focus will be on cleansing the back-end system by effectively implementing the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
Skill training is my other priority. There are a lot of youths in my area from lower income groups who are jobless even after having a BA degree. I’ll provide them access to jobs by imparting skill training of 3-6 months, which would assure them jobs of about R 25,000 at least.
The third would be to increase the telecom network in the area. People have come to me with a lot of complaints of poor network and call drops. Besides, I will also push for green energy by launching a rooftop solar scheme.
Q. Your priorities are quite different from your Congress and AAP competitors. You did not mention the issue of sealing against commercial establishments at all. Why?
A. A political brouhaha is being created about sealing and it is not helping the traders to say the least. The issue needs careful and strong handling in the Supreme Court, not on mics. In any case, we have already amended the Master Plan for Delhi, 2021, wherein Floor Area Ratio (FAR) norms were relaxed for local shopping centres and one-time conversion charges were reduced.
The whole mess was created by Maken in 2006 who as the then union urban development minister had shoddily made amendments to the master plan. AAP’s Goyal doesn’t even know how governments operate because had he known then he would have first asked the Kejriwal-led government in Delhi to notify 351 roads in Delhi as commercial, which would solve half of the problem at one go.
Q. Is the anti-incumbency factor at play in your constituency?
A. Not at all. I have worked honestly day and night for the locals here. Also, people want to give a second chance to the BJP at the centre as they feel Modi will be able to ensure national security. But, people are supporting me even going beyond the Modi factor.
Q. There is a perception that you are inaccessible. What do you have to say about it?
A. I am not a councillor and there are 10 MLAs in my constituency. I have always been open to interact with people. I respond to everybody’s text messages, if I am unable to call each one of them. Besides, anybody can walk into my office or house on Friday any time of the day. Rest of the week, I have a fixed timing for meeting public.
Q. Who is a bigger competition for you — AAP or the BJP?
A. None actually. Both are on slippery grounds after they tried to forge an alliance in Delhi. People will vote wisely as they are aware that even now the two parties have a secret alliance.