'I have started to sing. The atmosphere will improve'
Pop-singer-turned-politician Daler Mehndi speaks about his music, his mission of planting trees in Delhi and commitment to the Congress with The New Indian Express Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla during Teekhi Baat on IBN7. Excerpts:
How did you develop interest in politics?
I feel I can turn some into being melodious...
You must be witnessing parliament proceedings these days...
Certainly. You must have seen Kapil Sibal has started writing lyrics. I have started to sing. The atmosphere improves.
But there are many tunes in Congress. One of Dr Manmohan Singhji, one of Soniaji, and one of Sheila Dikshitji.
There are seven ‘sur’ in music. Here you have three ‘surs’ but in other places all ‘surs’ have gone astray, one is making the other fall. I have heard about Congress party since childhood and have seen the work done in Delhi over the past 15 years. When I came from America to Delhi, and witnessed truck passing by road, I used to cover my face with a handkerchief, due to dust, but now Delhi has become so beautiful.
What is your mission?
Since 1998, I have planted 8.5 lakh trees, even near places where there was filth, like around bridges, near ITO, where people used to defecate in the open. And my dream is to plant 20 crore trees in India. That I cannot do alone, I will request youngsters and the seniors to join me.
Trees are planted but attention is not paid to them.
Trees I have planted from Moti Nagar to Nehru Nagar, ITO or towards the airport are ‘peepal’ or ‘neem’ trees, which are now eight to 10 years old.
Tell me good qualities about the Congress.
There are good flyovers in Delhi. When I used to go to America, Canada, Dubai, in 1995, I used to feel that Delhi is a village. The airport seemed rural, but today, we have the most beautiful airport, the metro rail, air-conditioned buses. I too have travelled in buses by paying a fare of 60 paisa. It was claustrophobic, but today, the bus service is excellent.
Delhi has become rape city. Slums don’t have water supply, power supply...
Today, I saw news that there has been a rape incident in Jammu, in Mumbai. Everywhere one gets to hear such news. In majority of rape cases, the accused is a known person. Hence, one has to improve society.
When you are in politics, people will dig your controversial past. You took labour illegally to Canada, and the land issue in Haryana..
Allegations were levelled against me, but nothing has been proved.
You spoke like a politician, speak from your heart.
Sheilaji asked me the good things and bad things. I told her about many good things about Delhi, but I also told her that there are too few public toilets. I have come to serve people.
You are talking about change. Rahul Gandhi is honest person and young. What has he been able to change?
One should not compare.