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I would strive to save traders suffering from ill effects of sealing: Ajay Maken

Former Union minister and Congress party's New Delhi candidate Ajay Maken said that had the alliance between AAP and Congress taken place, then it could have defeated BJP in all the seven seats in Delhi for sure. From the issue of traders to the AAP-Congress alliance, Maken talked exclusively to Sayantan Ghosh about the Lok Sabha election 2019.

As the candidate from the New Delhi constituency, what are the key issues you are focusing on?

If you look at the demography of this constituency, you will find two major group one is the trader community and the second one is the government employees. Therefore my first focus would be on the traders who are suffering from the ill effects of the sealing. When UPA government was in power, we brought a special act to stop sealing in Delhi and made nearly 170 amendments in the Delhi Master Plan 2021. The target was to save commercial establishments from the sealing which was directed by the Supreme Court of India and executed by the monitoring committee formed by the apex court. The government also notified 3,000 roads for the commercial land use and declared more than 70 per cent places as industrial areas. Secondly, I want to reach out to the government employees to tell them about the draconian provisions of the Seventh Pay Commission. There is a lot of anomaly in the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations by this government as this even observed there will be no more pay commission. We increased the salaries by 40 per cent in the Sixth Pay Commission but the Seventh Commission increased only 14 per cent hence when we come to power we will remove all such anomalies.

You were one of the most prominent voices behind the AAP-Congress alliance but it could not become a reality. What stopped the alliance and how difficult it would be to win in this triangular election?

In this coming Lok Sabha election, I think that our key political rival is BJP and in Delhi, both AAP and Congress are against the BJP hence I wanted an alliance in Delhi between these two parties. But the alliance talks failed because the AAP wanted alliance in Haryana and Chandigarh too. This was a very peculiar condition for an alliance because in the history of India alliances always happen state wise and even constituency wise. We wanted in Delhi and by that, we both could have defeated BJP in huge margins but now also we will defeat BJP but we have to work harder. We have an alliance with NCP in Maharashtra but in other states, they are fighting against us and this happens. We could have easily made the alliance in Delhi and fight but it did not happen.

In the last elections in Delhi Congress party did not perform satisfactorily and the voter base shifted to the AAP, how will you get back that voter base?

If you look at the last Vidhan Sabha and the Lok Sabha election, the Congress party's vote share has gone down which is true but in the 2017 municipal election the vote percentage of the party increased whereas the AAP's vote share decreased. This shows that Congress is gaining its power in the Capital and this time we will perform even better.

The 13 per cent Muslim vote and 4 per cent Sikh votes were with Congress earlier but now the minority vote has shifted to AAP, do you think this time you will get their support?

Historically, Delhi never votes on the basis of religion or caste. Earlier, Congress won all the 7 seats then BJP won and in the last Vidhan Sabha AAP got 67 out of 70 seats, which means people from across the spectrum voted for these parties. So this year also in Delhi voting will not happen on the basis of religion or caste.

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