Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal, who is on a high, talks to dna about his party’s chances in the upcoming Delhi assembly elections, incumbent chief minister Sheila Dikshit and AAP plans for Mumbai.
Why does the party appear to be gaining a lot of traction in Delhi in poll surveys, and how many seats will it win when the counting takes place?
It was bound to happen as the people of Delhi are very angry at the Congress government’s misrule. Also, the BJP never played the role of the opposition, which it was supposed to do.
Instead, both parties are in collusion with electricity companies to loot the citizens of the city. It is simple and that is why the AAP, which is providing an honest and clean alternative, is preferred by the people of Delhi.
This is why surveys also, whether commissioned by us or news channels, are showing support for the AAP. But other surveys that I have seen are underestimating our support. I am sure we will win 47-plus seats in this election, and from December 8 a new era will begin in the politics of India.
You are believed to be honest, but how can you ensure that the 69 other candidates are clean as well and won’t change sides after winning with the AAP?
We have a very stringent system of choosing our candidates, and won’t think twice of replacing them in case there is any proof of allegations of corruption against them. We have already done it.
Even if just a day before, someone comes and gives us proof against any of our candidate, we will not shy away from cancelling his candidature. We will let the seat go empty rather than allow any corrupt person to be elected on our ticket.
People across the country – including a huge section of the youth – are excited with the AAP’s work in Delhi and want to do the same in their cities. What does the party plan to do about this?
Since the AAP was launched last year, we have had people coming from across India to become part of the change that AAP stands for. In several places across India, our teams are forming the party structure but right now our focus is on the Delhi elections.
It is of the utmost importance that the anger in heart of Delhiites is channelised properly to clean up politics. For the same, I have asked people from across India to come and volunteer with us until the elections. It is amazing that so many people from across India have left their jobs or have taken leave to join and work with us. Some people have come from outside India to be a part of this revolution.
Mumbai is an important city for the AAP as you received support from there during the Janlokpal campaign. Will AAP extend its footprint to the financial capital?
We are in this political revolution for the long term. We have good support from the people of Mumbai, including from the entertainment industry. A lot of people from Mumbai are also in Delhi to do whatever they can for the AAP in this election.
So, right now all our energies are focused on Delhi, and it is of utmost importance for us that we perform well here. Once we achieve this, we may move to cities like Mumbai. It will first depend on what happens in Delhi.
Delhi is a diverse city. How are you ensuring that your manifesto represents the aspirations and wishes of all?
Our manifesto team is working day and night to ensure that we give people what they actually need rather than imposing anything on them. Our manifesto will be unlike the rehashed document that parties like BJP and Congress release every 5 years. Our two main promises are giving Delhi a Janlokpal within 15 days of the party forming government and Swaraj (self-rule) within 90 days.
What is the most heartening aspect of your campaign till now?
The most encouraging part is the support the party is getting from people from all walks of life – whether they are safai karamcharis, students, doctors, engineers, government servants, housewives or local businessmen.
Also, the support that I have got from people who have left their well-established jobs to come to Delhi for the party is something that keeps me going.
You are challenging Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit in her own den. Are you confident of wining from that constituency? She has repeatedly voiced her indifference to the AAP.
For us, her indifference does not matter. AAP is working for the people and not to prove anything to Sheila Dikshit, or for that matter, the BJP. We are going door to door and I have got a tremendous response from the people. Our survey reveals that there will be a handsome victory for the AAP in Sheila Dikshit’s constituency.
A lot of fingers have been raised at the AAP’s methods of publicity and raising funds. How do you respond to such charges?
Even when we were a movement, we were open to scrutiny and that has not changed. We have limited resources so we have to be careful in choosing our ways of publicity. Actually, those raising fingers at us are taken aback because we have adopted new ways of reaching out to the public, something they had not done. We had roped in auto-rickshaw drivers or people standing on flyovers with banners. We believe in transparency and are ready for scrutiny. The source of our funds are legal and open for anyone to see. Can anyone from Congress or BJP claim that?
Will you invite Anna Hazare to help you in your campaign against Sheila Dikshit?
We miss Anna and if he comes, our campaign will get a lot of energy. I have Annaji’s blessing to fight against Kapil Sibal in the Chandni Chowk constituency, but right now my fight is against Sheila Dikshit.