‘Bad planning behind water, power crisis’

Veteran Congress leader and parliamentarian Jai Prakash Agarwal has been member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha since 1984. He has been the Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) representing north-east Delhi constituency since 2009. He has been the member of All India Congress Committee since 1992 and President of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee since 2007. A firm believer of ‘simple living and high thinking’, Agarwal represents the great political legacy of his father and freedom fighter R C Agarwal.

In an exclusive interview with Siddheshwar Shukla, he shares his views on various sociopolitical issues. Excerpts:

What are your plans for the people of your constituency?

It’s disappointing that I am not able to do much for the people of my constituency. I have raised my voice several times to the Chief Minister of Delhi to get bridges over Yamuna, metro connectivity and other projects, but of no avail. Several bridges and a better metro connectivity have been provided in Trans-Yamuna area that falls in east Delhi constituency.

What are the major issues in your constituency?

North-east Delhi is the most neglected area in the city. Around 60 per cent houses don’t have sewage connectivity. Inadequate supply of water and power and unauthorised colonies are some of the other issues that plague us.

Memorable work that you have done for your constituency in your present term?

The electrification of Badarpur Khadar village. Can you imagine, up until two years ago, a village in the national capital of India had no electricity?

Whom do you hold responsible for this?

The planners are not aware about ground realities in Delhi.

But it’s your [Congress] government in Delhi.

I have no hesitation in criticising even my party’s government for bad planning. I have raised my voice several times against the Delhi government in All India Congress Committee meetings, have written letter to Sonia Gandhi and have even highlighted the issues through media.

How well do you get along with Sheila Dikshit ?

We are mature politicians and enjoy good personal relations. The right to differ is the core of our democracy. The ruling party and the government are responsible to people. My criticism is always positive and is for the betterment of Delhiites.

The issue of regularisation of unauthorised colonies is again in the limelight. What is your take?

All the colonies, which were provided provisional certificates by Sonia Gandhi in 2008 must be regularised without any further delay. The other colonies in the list should also be regularised.

What about affluent colonies like Sainik Farms, Anantram Dairy and Mahendro Enclave?

There should not be any differentiation between one colony and the other. They should also be regularised. Problems of Lal Dora area should also be solved as soon as possible.

Whom do you hold responsible for water and power crisis in the city ?

Again, bad planning.

What’s your view on Janlokpal?

They have raised the issue, now the matter should be left to the Parliament, which is the supreme legislative body of the country.

But they blame that most of the parliamentarians are involved or support corruption, so will not pass such a strict rule?

We are elected representatives. Each member of Lok Sabha represents over 30 lakh population. We don’t need their certificates.

What is your view about Team Anna?

They are dictators. They just want their views to be implemented and are not ready to listen anybody.

But they enjoy the support of a significant number of people?

They are being used by a certain group of people to malign Congress governments and leaders. They never spoke against the corrupts among BJP.

What is your stand on corruption among parliamentarians?

A very small percentage of people are found engaged in corrupt practices. They should be dealt with individually. You don’t need to disable an entire system for that.

What is your solution to contain corruption among parliamentarians?

Rajiv Gandhi had suggested a constitutional body like Election Commission of India to deal with the issue of corruption. I think this is the only remedy.

What has been the best moment of your political career so far?

I had an opportunity to address a multicultural gathering of over 30,000 people from the rampart of the Lal Quila on the occasion of Apna Utsav in 1986. I was member of parliament from Chandni Chowk and made chairman of the organising committee for Apna Utsav. Over 30 cultural groups participated in the event.

Who are your ideal leaders?

Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi.

Where do you want to see yourself in future?

I want to serve the party in the best possible way. I have been given several responsibilities both at state and national levels and I wish I could perform better.
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