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Lok Sabha elections 2019- ‘Direct fight between AAP and BJP, 3rd spot reserved for Congress’: Atishi

Credited for her work in school education reforms in the Delhi government, AAP candidate for East Delhi, Atishi, has been nurturing her constituency for almost a year.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 30, 2019 07:07 IST
Risha Chitlangia
Risha Chitlangia
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BJP,Congress,AAP
Pitted against three-time Congress MLA Arvinder Singh Lovely and cricketer Gautam Gambhir of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Atishi says she is confident of a win.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

Atishi, 37, an Oxford University graduate, is making her electoral debut this election. But the turf is not new. Credited for her work in school education reforms in the Delhi government, she has been nurturing the East Delhi constituency for almost a year. Pitted against three-time Congress MLA Arvinder Singh Lovely and cricketer Gautam Gambhir of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Atishi says she is confident of a win. “It will be a direct fight between the Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP. The third place is reserved for the Congress,” she said in an interview. Excerpts:

The AAP has been targeting Gautam Gambhir over procedural lapses in his campaigns. The BJP has said the AAP has already conceded defeat and this is why it is raising these issues. Your comments.

I was the first to say that we welcome his entry into politics. People who care about public interest should join politics. But I think from the time he has entered (politics), he is coming across as a novice. His candidature getting disqualified by the EC is a certainty. If this had come out at the time of the scrutiny, he would have got disqualified then itself. And they also know. This is why he is not being presented before the media. I have challenged him for an open debate, which I hope he will agree to.

AAP has full statehood for Delhi as its poll plank. Do you think people are able to relate to it? Even if the AAP wins all seven seats, how will you ensure that Delhi gets full statehood?

There are many issues — lack of jobs, college admissions, affordable housing, women security, which people face in daily life. The idea is to tell people that the problems they are facing are related to Delhi not being a full state.Everybody knows the Modi government is not coming back. There will be a coalition government at the Centre. Seven seats that the AAP will win from Delhi will play a crucial role in the formation of a non-BJP government. We will support a non-BJP coalition government, which promises full statehood to Delhi.

Congress candidate Arvinder Singh Lovely has accused the AAP for stalling development work in trans-Yamuna area. He says that the then Congress government transformed the area without Delhi being a full state. Your reaction.

This is a comparison, which should be done. We have a report card of his work as Delhi’s education minister and the work done by us in the last four years. When we came to power in 2015, the government schools were in a bad condition. Close to 75-80% of east Delhi lives in slums, unauthorised and resettlement colonies. What did their government do for these people? People of East Delhi have been denied basic infrastructure.

It is going to be a triangular contest in Delhi, as the AAP-Congress alliance hasn’t worked out. Isn’t a split in votes likely to benefit the BJP?

Not really.

Then who is your main opponent?

The third place in Delhi (elections) is reserved for the Congress. It is a direct fight between the AAP and the BJP. But Gautam Gambhir has made it easier because he is going to get disqualified due to his voter ID issue.

The Congress and AAP have the same vote base. How will the AAP retain its vote bank in unauthorised colonies, slums and resettlement colonies?

The people have seen the work done by the then Congress government. There was no impact on their lives during 15 years of Congress rule. The area had a BJP MP for five years. It made no impact on their lives. It is only the AAP that has worked for the development of these colonies. They trust Arvind Kejriwal as he is the person who changed their lives.

First Published: Apr 30, 2019 06:11 IST

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