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‘We will form Delhi’s next government’

Aam Aadmi Partly leader Arvind Kejriwal keeps a punishing daily schedule these days, swinging from one assembly constituency to another in the sprawling metropolis of Delhi, delivering speeches, pumping hands, and holding out hope for those alienated from both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Till a few months ago, nobody had thought the Aam Aadmi Party could become a player in Delhi’s electoral politics. Today, even his detractors accept the party will emerge as the Third Front in the Delhi assembly election, which is due in December.
Edited excerpts from the interview:

People say the Aam Aadmi Party still remains a Third Front. Who between the Congress and the BJP will your party impact adversely?
I don’t know what they mean by first front, second front, and third front. But what is most important is that opinion polls as well the strong undercurrents that exist in Delhi show that there are three equal political forces in Delhi. These are the BJP, the Congress, and the Aam Aadmi Party.

But assume if it were to be a hung Assembly, who between the Congress and BJP would you support in forming the next government?
I want to make it very clear, and I want to do this because rumours are being spread very selectively about us. At some places, they say we are going to support the Congress; at other places, they say we are going to support the BJP. But I want to make it very clear that we are going to support neither the Congress nor the BJP. We will also not take the support of either to form a government. Firstly, we are very confident that the Aam Aadmi Party will form Delhi’s next government. Political scientist, Yogendra Yadav is among the best psephologists of the country, and he has had several surveys conducted. According to him, we are on our way to getting an overwhelming majority.

Do you mean you won’t support them or take their support even if it means a government can’t be formed?
Let both the Congress and the BJP take the help of each other to form a government, in case Delhi throws up a hung assembly. Behind the scenes, anyway, the Congress and the BJP are together. So let them come together form a government. But in case that doesn’t happen, then there would be a repoll. We are confident of getting a sweeping majority in such a repoll.

From activist to politician, you have come a long way. How have you evolved ideologically? How has this changed you as a person?
Personally, I have grown quite a lot. When you are an activist, you actually fight for one or two issues. Every group, every organisation, has one or two causes it fights for. We once fought for the Right to Information, then for ration, followed by water, etc., etc. But when you are a political party you have to understand this country comprehensively. You have to understand its people comprehensively. As a political party, you can’t take an exclusivist approach. You have to look into the problems of the poor, problems of the middle class also, and problems of the upper class also. You have to then find solutions that are acceptable to the largest section of the society. So, in this sense, it has been a great learning experience. Second, I now also realise that politicians have to work very hard and put in a lot of effort. I know after the election they don’t do anything but merely loot the country, but before the election they have to work really hard.

You came into the limelight because of your critique of national politics and political leaders.  Why have you then chosen to contest the Delhi Assembly election?
Delhi is the first step. It is the stepping stone. Following the Delhi Assembly election, we will definitely be participating in the Lok Sabha election next year.
We are very confident of passing the Jan Lokpal Bill in the first 15 days of being sworn in. We will try to see whether it is possible for the Delhi Assembly to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill in Ramlila Maidan. There are many other things. But let me tell you, our MLAs will not have cars with red lights, they will stay in ordinary houses in their own locality, they will not take security. What we intend doing is to fire the imagination of the people. We will pass a law for complete political decentralisation of power, for real people’s participation. We will ensure that most of the executive decisions are taken by people themselves through participation in mohalla sabhas all across Delhi. They will have control over funds, functions and functionaries.


Why have you chosen to contest against Sheila Dikshit?
Because she is a symbol of corruption. She ought to be defeated, the whole of Delhi wants to defeat Sheila Dikshit. But you don’t have faith in the BJP. Both the Congress and the BJP are in bed together, they have a relationship of a husband and wife. The BJP has been deliberately putting up weak candidates against Sheila Dikshit so that she wins. This time too, the BJP would put up a weak candidate against her. And because she has to be defeated, I decided to stand against her.


Do you think your participation in electoral politics has diluted your anti-corruption plank?
Of course not, I think electoral politics was the next logical step in our fight against corruption. People ask us why I exposed Robert Vadra’s corruption and did not pursue it to the logical end. This is the logical end. We exposed Robert Vadra, they didn’t take action. Now we will fight election, and we will take action against him.

Action like what?
We will pass the Jan Lokpal Bill, we will institute an inquiry against him, and he will go to jail. Robert Vadra, Salman Khurshid, Nitin Gadkari like people ought to go to jail.
 

What about Dalits? There are intellectuals among the Dalits who accuse your party of being elitist, of being opposed to reservation etc?
We are not against reservation. Read our Vision document. This is a false propaganda spread against us. Surveys of Yogendra Yadav tell us that Muslims and Dalits are voting overwhelmingly for us in Delhi. You see, till now, people have seen only one kind of politics. But what they are seeing now is another kind of politics, which is honest and sincere. It is this which is driving people to us.


Has the middle class distanced itself from you, in comparison to its support, say, a year earlier?
I don’t think the middle class has distanced itself from the Aam Aadmi Party. But what I would say is that our traction with the poor has increased immensely. Our surveys also show we have made huge inroads among the poor.

On arrangement with Indiaopines
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