Will defeat Maken this time with bigger margin: Lekhi
This time, Meenakshi Lekhi, the BJP candidate from New Delhi, is all set to sweep the Lok Sabha polls, at least according to what she said in an exclusive interview with Anup Verma & Abhinay Lakshman of the Millennium Post. Lekhi said some might think she is up against heavyweight candidates, but the only one formidable in New Delhi is none other than her. Excerpts:
How has your campaign been so far? What are the issues you are focusing on?
It's just absolutely fantastic. You can see the affection of people, enthusiasm of our party workers and the response from the general public. The whole thing is worth a watch. Look, issues change with changing times. But, what we are talking about here is the five years of work that the Modi government has accomplished. In addition to this, I am addressing the work that I have achieved in the last five years in my constituency, including how I have dealt with a variety of issues inside and outside of parliament. These are the things we are talking about. Development is definitely the agenda we are setting here, because an urban constituency comprises of an aware electorate. But nationalism and national politics remain as important and we are also talking about policies that our government has framed in this regard.
What are some local issues your campaign will zero in on?
The worst issue we are dealing with happens to be the water crisis. And I believe if New Delhi has water crisis, every other constituency will also have water crisis. I cannot deal with this because it is a subject matter that comes under the Delhi government's jurisdiction. Earlier, as a representative of this area I had got Rs 900 crore sanctioned from the Central budget for the Delhi government to put to use. But the execution and work strategy of how this money is used remains under the purview of Delhi government. Since they never involved me, I don't know what strategy or what plan do they have for dealing with the water crisis here. They got this budgetary allocation on my demand from the Centre.
Further on, how do you plan to work with NDMC and the Delhi government, given that you share jurisdiction with them?
Look, conflicts in this regard come and go on a daily basis. But, irrespective of conflicting issues, a lot can be done if intentions are well placed. My point is that I don't bring politics into developmental aspects or helping people. I don't believe in that and repeatedly I have made this clear to the Delhi government. I have always maintained that we should work together on dealing with the issues at hand. We will play politics when it comes to elections, but I have not received a positive response from the other side on working towards resolving these issues together. My faith in not politicising developmental issues and bringing basic amenities like water to the people of Delhi does not seem to be reciprocated.
What has your crowning achievement been as an MP in the last five years?
You see, there have been so many national policies that our government has introduced, launched, and nurtured. But a lot of them haven't been applied in Delhi. As a legislator, my role has been to try to get these policies applied in New Delhi 100 percent. I have tried my level best to make sure that people of Delhi can reap the benefits of schemes that have been passed by our government. I have tried to bring these benefits to the people and help them, whether it is Mudra, Jandhan, or Ujjwala. As an MP, I've spent Rs 32 crore to develop my constituency, whereas the MPLAD fund only allows for Rs 25 crore. I utilised every bit of resource, including the leftover of Rs 7 crore of MPLAD fund from my predecessor.
New Delhi is one of the top smart cities in India. What more you are planning for this smart city?
There are many things which are possible. We have achieved a target of about 40 per cent smartness, so to speak. I wish I could achieve 100 percent and we've done quite a bit towards that end. The whole 100 percent is very much doable if all of the authorities invested in the issue work together and cooperate. But what I want to work on is garbage management and waste disposal. There are various possible ways that I'm looking at for garbage disposable solutions close to the area, in the vicinity of the constituency. This is because it is imperative that we find a solution that considerably reduces the number of garbage trucks we send to the landfills. Other than this, I intervened and got around 10 Sewage Treatment Plants put up.
What's the first thing you promise to do, if you are re-elected?
There are still one or two places in New Delhi where open defecation is still a problem. So, I have decided that I'm going to build toilets there immediately. There is a place called Timbre Market in Moti Nagar, where a park is used as a place for open defecation and that particular cluster needs a bit of redoing. In fact, I went to Bhanwar Singh Camp on Monday and there was a place, a part of the ridge that was used for open defecation. I had got that area enclosed and converted into a park and built toilets in the area.
Some would say you are going up against formidable opponents in New Delhi. How do you feel about that, given that things are different from what they were in 2014?
Yes, I agree that things are different this time around. So, as compared to 2014, I believe our margins will increase. Mr Maken, whom I defeated by a margin of more than two and a half lakh votes, will lose this year by a larger margin. If somebody is formidable in this seat, it happens to be Meenakshi Lekhi and no one else.
What are some other challenges you might face in the run-up to the polls?
There is no challenge whatsoever that I feel I must be aware of. There is resounding confidence that I have nothing to worry about in these polls. The only thing that worries me is that the campaign is exhausting and as a result of speaking continuously, my throat has taken a toll. So, other than that there is nothing else that worries me.