Although the Congress party may have suffered a crushing defeat in the recently-concluded Delhi Assembly Elections, Union Minister Kapil Sibal fails to see this as a warning sign for the party in the upcoming General Elections. In an exclusive interview with Zee News Editor Sudhir Chaudhary, he said that the support his party gave to the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi was important to allow voters to see the truth behind the lofty pre-poll promises made by Arvind Kejriwal.
The Union Minister for Communications and IT said he does not rue support given by the Congress to the AAP, and added, "It was the decision of the party's state body. A fledgling party can only bag 28 seats in an assembly constituency when the voter believes that it can deliver the goods. So why not give them a chance?
We said — if you can give free water, slash electricity rates by half, create 62,000 jobs and establish a special force to protect women — and all this only in a matter of days, then go ahead and form a government, we'll support you."
A month has passed since the formation of Arvind Kejriwal-led government and Sibal feels the voters have already begun to see the truth behind AAP's promises. He said, "Till today, they haven't delivered on any of their promises. Instead of slashing electricity tariffs, they created a slab of 200 and 400 units. Instead of free water, they set a limit of 666 litres. Anyone can sell dreams - some sell it on the roads, others on the dais. But now the people will see how they promised a lot and delivered nothing."
After taking support from the Congress, the Delhi ministers have gone on a dharna against the policies of Congress-led UPA government. When asked how it feels to see elected representatives sitting on a dharna against prohibitory laws, Sibal said, "There are certain principles that a democracy runs on and these are sacrosanct. Those who should be protecting the threads of democracy are instead shredding it to bits. Such behaviour can give rise to anarchy. I don't think that as a minister one gets the free will to go on hunger strikes and thwart Article 144. It's just not correct."
When quizzed as to how long this would ensue before the Congress reconsiders this support to AAP, he said, "We will go to the public and seek their opinion. And also consider the opinion of our party members."
When reminded that it was Arvind Kejriwal who had once criticised Sibal's policies before the media, Sibal said, "It was his naivety. Naive people often go on to say a lot of things."
The Delhi results show that public opinion seems to be in the favour of elected representatives who are not driven by the VIP culture and move around in small cars sans red beacons. But the Law Minister feels that the voter is smart enough to see through all this. "I too commute in a small car. They are seen in a car worth Rs 16 lakhs. And though they've smartly removed the red beacon, the VIP number plate remains. They claim they haven't taken any security, but there is a blanket of security personnel around them. They first took the large bungalow and later settled for a small one. Public will soon see the truth behind all this," he said.
Despite all this, why does the Congress still want to support the AAP? "This is to ensure that they get a fair chance to fulfill all the promises they made," Sibal emphasised.
The Union Law Minister recently called Narendra Modi a 'salesman', Arvind Kejriwal a 'showman', but what monicker does he attribute to Congress party scion Rahul Gandhi?
"Rahul Gandhi is a simple, committed and sincere leader who wants to bring about a change in the electioneering process in the upcoming General Elections - and is someone who is focussing on the future," said Sibal.
But he does concede that Narendra Modi's 'juggernaut' has been effective in swaying public opinion and opinion polls. He opined, "It is the age of communication revolution and whoever has more 'bites on bits' will surge forward...And we concede that he (Modi) began early, in a planned manner and spent lots of money to portray that the UPA I and II governments ruined the country - whereas the reality is just the opposite. In our two tenures we've achieved way more than any government in the history of India."