Arvind Kejriwal: We are not soft nationalists, we are unconditional nationalists | Delhi News
In any choice, there is much rhetoric from all sides. But this time personal attacks and community harmonics reached unprecedented levels. They called you a terrorist more than once, even from a Union minister. Where do you think it comes from?
It is happening because BJP has nothing to counter the work done in Delhi. He has tried everything but has not been able to poke holes in our work. He came out with photographs of some of our schools, but these turned out to be false. I came up with some videos of mohalla clinics, but these also turned out to be fake. The water problem arose, but that was not washed with people either. They were left with nothing. They gathered all the parties: JD (U), RJD and LJP and formed an alliance, but that did not work. Now they have sent 200 parliamentarians, 70 union ministers, 11 CM with no results. They have no other choice and are trying to polarize in the lines of Hindu-Muslim.
Also read: Better schools, not CAA, will build 21st century India, says Arvind Kejriwal
Do you wish that Shaheen Bagh had not happened?
It is BJP that is benefiting from Shaheen Bagh. He is challenging the elections on the subject of Shaheen Bagh only, nothing more. The road must be open. Everyone wants that path to open. It is clogging school buses and ambulances and causing a half-hour trip to last for three hours. Amit Shah is Minister of the Interior and the most powerful man in this country. No one is going to believe that he cannot open a path. It can be opened in 10 minutes if you wish. He doesn’t want the road to open because he wants to keep Shaheen Bagh’s problem alive. It is very sad that for a choice, for a month and a half I have put people in trouble. Shaheen Bagh has been created alone and only by BJP for the elections.
Regardless of this, Shaheen Bagh has become a symbol of the anti-CAA movement. What would you like to say about it?
Shaheen Bagh is a problem just because of the blocked road. Otherwise, it is not a specific problem in Delhi but national.
Except for introducing Manish Sisodia and Bhagwant Mann, you carried the entire campaign load for your party while BJP unleashed a phalanx of high-ranking leaders in the last 15 days. Will this have any effect on the election result?
We are a small party centered in Delhi and we have a shortage of faces. By the way, this time everyone is contesting the elections and are busy in their respective constituencies. Manish, Sanjay Singh and Gopal Rai, in addition to me, have held many public meetings. We don’t have many leaders of national stature. Our greatest strength is our people and our work. BJP does not have an accountant for our work. They cannot explain what they did in the DCM in the last 15 years. The people of Delhi gave me the responsibility of the schools and we improved them. They were given responsibility for sanitation and turned Delhi into a dump (kuda ghar). I want to ask BJP what they have done for a clean Delhi. If Shaheen Bagh ceases to exist as a problem today, they will not know what to say in their electoral speeches.
The AAP manifesto has promised the deshbhakti curriculum. What was the need for it?
Gandhiji had said that a student who leaves school or university should have three qualities: he should be a good human being, be able to win for his family and be an unconditional nationalist. We begin the happiness curriculum to make them good human beings, the entrepreneurial spirit for the pet bharne ke liye (earn a meal) and deshbhakti to make them unconditional nationalists.
Political observers feel that you are taking a soft nationalist position.
We are not soft nationalists, we are unconditional nationalists. We have left Anna’s movement. Under Anna’s movement, we put the Indian flag in the hands of all children and it became a matter of pride. We’re
kattar rashtrabhakt (Unconditional Patriots).
Is that the reason you didn’t go to Shaheen Bagh, Jamia and JNU?
I have no role in that, I have my limitations. I am Delhi CM. I am responsible for education, health, energy and water. In case the corporation faces a problem tomorrow, it would not put its nose in that. It is a public order problem related to CAA and NRC and I have no role in that. Amit Shah will have to address it.
Do you empathize with students because there is confusion on all campuses?
The violence and politics that take over universities is not a good thing. We all send our children to study and make a career. Such violence causes a sense of insecurity among people about their children. Across the country, people feel insecure about where they should send their children and it’s not about three or four universities.
So who do you blame for this?
I blame the central government. We should keep party policy away from university campuses.
How are Arvind Kejriwal different from February 2015 and February 2020? What have you been taught five years of being the prime minister and how has it changed you?
I think we have more experience and we have a little more patience now. When we were out of government, we used to ask ourselves like any other common man why hospitals, roads, schools and water supply are in poor condition and do not improve. We used to feel that 70 years have passed, and it must be very complex, so they can’t do it. All parties have tried but nothing happened.
But the shocking changes witnessed in Delhi (in the last five years) prove that it can be done. They were all
dhurandhar (big fish) but the intention was missing. Everyone was looking for personal benefits, and if a person is busy with personal benefits all the time, they will not think about the country and progress. We are not here to earn money. We are honest and we want to work. Except for administrative problems due to the power dispute with the vice governor and the Center, things have progressed very fast. The education, health, electricity and water sectors have witnessed major changes. It has ignited hope and now we have a vision for the next five years.
You talked about patience. Do you think the first one or two years passed in combat? It could have been used in a better way.
The administrative structure had made us restless. After an order from the superior court of Delhi, all files were sent to the LG. The HC almost said that the CM is only an LG advisor. How can that be in a democracy? All files were sent to LG and he did not delete them due to political reasons. It caused concern because we had a huge mandate and could not do anything. Ultimately, it is our responsibility … people will question us. Subsequently, the SC statement changed the scenario. It gave us more power.
You talked about sanitation. What is the reason why Delhi is a dirty city? What do you plan to do about it?
BJP in municipal corporations has no intention of cleaning Delhi. It is not space science. The world has many known sanitation companies. If you make a global tender, many companies will appear and clean Delhi.
How will you approach this?
We will do it and make corporations do it. We will contest the civic elections and hope to win. It is not an exact science. The hardest part was education. Building construction, bathroom cleaning and water supply were relatively easier. Motivating teachers and doctors was difficult. Now doctors and government teachers are appreciated. This will also be done.
Municipal surveys are far away. He promised to focus on sanitation in an important way. But the performance of municipal corporations, which say they lack funds, does affect the quality of life in Delhi. Where is the exit?
There are many ways to do things. We had a list of work to do with DCM before the civic elections: vacuum and paint the roads to make them look tidier. For the cleaning of Yamuna, we are at an advanced stage to address the problem of the four main drains that flow into that river by cleaning them with STP. A lot of work will be done before the corporate elections and long after that.
Is there any way to address the corporation’s complaint about the funds?
We will give the corporation funds for specific projects, as if we were granting these funds only for solid waste management. Otherwise, they end up diverting funds.
You have questioned BJP about the lack of a prime minister’s face. Amit Shah has said that every citizen of Delhi is the CM candidate of BJP.
That is a political position. People have the right to know who the head of minister will be, who they will vote for. People choose a CM but BJP does not believe in democracy. If you then make an illiterate person CM, it will be like cheating the people of Delhi. BJP must reveal its CM face. I want to debate with him.
Pollution is the biggest problem in Delhi and affects the poor more. You did it oddly and the level of pollution has gone down, but it’s still a major problem.
The positive side is that pollution has decreased, not increased. In other cities, pollution is increasing, but we have reduced it by 25%. In 2015, the average AQI was 155, while last year it was 115. The real problem manifests itself between October and February due to stubble burning and temperature inversion. Due to frequent power outages, about 6 lakh generators were operational in 2015 in Delhi. The 24-hour power supply has caused the generators to shut down. The eastern and western peripheral highways, the increase in green cover with 1100 acres of additional land used for afforestation and other factors have reduced pollution.
In the next five years we will take several measures, including the fight against dust pollution and the greening of open areas. Transportation will receive a boost that we hope will reduce the number of two-wheelers. As of now, nobody knows the real sources of contamination because we don’t have equipment to measure. Pollution changes every minute and varies from month to month. So, we have linked up with the University of Washington. Beginning April 1, a laboratory for real-time distribution of the source of contamination will be functional and field decisions can be made to address the particular reasons for contamination.
BJP leaders are promising smog towers for Delhi.
The smog towers are overrated. We had sent some people to China to study smog towers, but these have not been successful. If they succeed, we will install them.
Congress seems to be absent from the election campaign in Delhi. There are rumors that Congress has developed a tactical alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party.
We have no understanding with any of the parties. I believe that Congress will be limited to 2% to 3% of the votes in this election. Various surveys show that they have been reduced to a voting rate of 2% to 3%. People do not see any hope in Congress.
You talked about boosting transportation in the next five years, but buses didn’t arrive in Delhi in as many numbers as expected.
The reason was that in 2017 we had executed the work order for the new buses, but someone went to HC and got a purchase suspension. It took us three years to vacate the stay. He was unemployed only six and seven months ago. It caused a delay. But the buses have already begun to arrive, and I think that in four or five months we will have 4000 more.
Traffic modes for cars such as cars, rickshaws and grameen sevas are known to violate traffic laws. Efforts to regulate them trigger a protest on grounds as if they belonged to an economically backward section.
Delhi faces a general problem of traffic indiscipline and involves all vehicles. It is related to the application. Application agencies are not under our control. If the enforcement agencies become a bit more strict, the situation will improve. The increase in traffic fines has led to some improvement.
The issue of hanging Nirbhaya’s convicts has become political when in reality it is a legal problem. How did this happen?
The Delhi government has no role in it. We do not have the police or the judicial system under us. Our role is limited to forwarding files received from MHA to prison and those received from prison to MHA.
But Nirbhaya’s parents blame his government.
Nirbhaya’s parents are simple people and are being deceived.
You have been urging people to vote for AAP regardless of the parties to which they belong. Are you decoupling ideology choices? And what has been your opinion?
I am saying that for the first time a party has improved schools and hospitals. If you vote for other parties, they will return to their previous condition. Then, in the national interest and in the interest of your own children, vote for AAP.
Does that mean reducing your national ambitions?
There is no such national ambition. The people of Delhi voted for me for Delhi. They will vote for me for Delhi for the next five years. I will be in Delhi for the next five years. The party will decide if it wants to contest elections in other places.
The Anna movement that led to the birth of AAP and its party that forms the government had a bigger message and a bigger resonance, well beyond Delhi. What will happen to that if you limit yourself to local problems?
Improving schools is a national problem, not limited to Delhi. Across the country, schools are in poor condition. Roads and hospitals should be better. 21st century India will not be built through the Citizenship Law (Amendment) and the National Citizens Registry. It will be built by better schools, colleges and hospitals and will progress in our space program. In the last five years, the capital has given the country a development model. This model can build 21st century India.
Does that mean you want to adopt a non-confrontational approach with the Center?
I was never confrontational. Every time we were confronted, confrontations were imposed on us. Just like LG was sitting on the file of the CCTV camera that was deleted after our dharna. We needed to be confrontational just to get a job for the people of Delhi. After the Supreme Court ruling, we no longer need to be confrontational.
How has your relationship with the vice governor evolved?
He is an excellent person. I have great respect for you. We have very good relationships. I think the Supreme Court ruling helped.
How will the warranty card you launched a few days ago work and what happens if the progress halfway is very slow and things don’t go as they should be? Will the response to criticism also be innovative?
I have given a five year warranty. I will be responsible if the work is not done in five years.
Those who have left you, like Kapil Mishra and Kumar Vishwas, are bitter and attack you personally. They were close to you. How do you react to that?
It feels bad but it is part of politics.
Law and order do not depend on you, but we have seen since the time of Sheila Dikshit that its implementation always has implications for the Delhi government. What is your evaluation of the Delhi police?
The Delhi police is good. It can become the most efficient police force in the country, provided that those who control it are good. They can control the crime if they are given clear instructions and there is no interference.
What do you have to say about the man who shot Shaheen Bagh and turned out to be an AAP worker, according to police?
The Delhi police are being used as a political tool. As I told you, BJP has nothing to counter our work. When nothing worked, they threw me abuses as terrorists, thugs and anti-nationals. Delhi
The police is your last resort. Suddenly, before the elections, some photos have appeared that claim that he is a member of the AAP. Your family members have denied any link with AAP. The country is watching how Amit Shah is plotting conspiracies at the last moment. The person must be punished, and if he turns out to be an AAP worker, give him twice as much punishment.
Are the photos fake?
I do not know. We do not know that person.
Do you think the EC has done enough to control hate speech in elections?
I think they could have done much more. They could have stopped whatever is happening. They took a few steps, but after the bans were lifted, they started again … they lost their fear.
How have your meetings with the prime minister and the interior minister been?
After Narendra Modi became prime minister, I went to visit him. I told him that he was the prime minister of the country and I was the CM of the capital city. Therefore, it is extremely important that both governments and both have extremely cordial relations. He thanked that. However, the interior minister has not given me an appointment.
His manifesto talks about the development of the river front. Isn’t that what the Center will do?
It involves multiple agencies. He had advised them to create a special vehicle for him like the Delhi Metro. The first task is to clean the Yamuna and then the river front will develop. We will give you the land we own for the purpose.
During the term of Sheila Dikshit, the infrastructure received a great boost. Do you think your government has done enough for the infrastructure?
All infrastructure development under Sheila Dikshit took place during the Commonwealth Games. An amount of Rs 70,000 crore was pumped to the capital. In 15 years, 65 overpasses were built. Our government built 27 in five years. All that work does not receive attention when people talk about our work in the areas of health, education, water and energy that have stood out the most.