You have been trusted again with the responsibility of heading the Delhi Congress just months shy of the next Assembly elections. Your thoughts?
Frankly speaking, I hadn’t expected this. To my understanding, the high command must have thought of giving the job to an experienced hand, as the time isn’t right for experiments. By the time a young and inexperienced leader has an understanding of the city, the polls would have been over and done with.
Your plans to put an end to differences among feuding leaders?
I have asked leaders and workers to write their grievances to me. I will try to resolve the issues myself or take them up with the high command. This is my responsibility as president of the Delhi unit. They are also free to approach the top leadership, if they so wish.
But no one should bring internal party matters in the public domain. I also have a plan to decentralise work and involve and each and every member. We need to have faith in our people.
What do you think will be the issues on which the forthcoming elections would be fought?
Four issues will matter most — unauthorised colonies, jhuggi-jhopri (JJ) clusters, unemployment and minorities. People are fed up with the failure of the central and Delhi governments on multiple fronts. The results of the Haryana and Maharashtra elections bear an illustration of the same.
Many had said the Congress will get hardly five to seven seats. The results of both states are before us. People have reposed faith in the Congress again. I am confident that in Delhi, too, we will better our 2015 performance. People have the right to live with dignity, avail best services and bag decent-paying jobs. The minorities also need to be treated with respect.
The Delhi polls are going to be very interesting. We will win 17-20 seats at least. Our motto for the polls would be ‘kaam kiya hai, kaam karenge’ (We have performed, we will perform). Today’s generation should know what the situation in Delhi was in the past.
What is your take on subsidies and freebies being offered by the Delhi government? Is this just a ploy to secure votes?
The poorest of the poor should get maximum benefits. Why shouldn’t the government do more for them if it has surplus budget and money? They deserve it.
This is precisely why we (Congress governments) had started giving subsidies to people. However, the question is why did Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have to announce all these schemes and subsidies just a few months before the elections.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and AAP are vying to take credit for regularisation of unauthorised colonies. They should be informed on who gave shelter to people living in unauthorsied colonies when they arrived in the national capital It was the Congress.
Our party initiated the process and regularised unauthorised colonies in 2008 when Congress president Sonia Gandhi handed over provisional certificates to them. The Sheila Dikshit government planned in-setu development of JJ cluster. Settlers in unauthorised colonies should get property rights without being asked to pay for development.
Poorvanchalis and people in living unauthorised colonies make a significant chunk of Delhi’s voters. They used to be the Congress’ core vote base. How will you convince them to vote for your party?
They need to be told the truth. Kejriwal, time and again, has proved that he is against Poorvanchalis. He said that they buy train tickets for Rs 500 to come to Delhi in the quest of free treatment.
For rising crime rate, he blames ‘outsiders’. Poor migrants come to the city in search of employment. It is our duty to support them. I have discussed this issue with Kirit Azad (chairman of the campaign committee of Delhi Congress). We will expose Kejriwal.