Following months of discussions with the Aam Aadmi Party, Poonam Azad, former BJP leader and wife of suspended BJP MP Kirti Azad, joined the AAP last Sunday. She speaks to Sweta Dutta on the road ahead.
You were in discussions with AAP since early this year. What took you so long to decide?
I am an emotional person and to break my ties with the BJP, a party for which my husband and I have worked for the last 25 years — strengthening cadres in Bihar and getting Poorvanchalis together in Delhi — was a very difficult decision. My husband managed to hold me back in the party last time I was in talks with the AAP, but this time I decided it was high time I called it quits.
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What will be your role in the AAP?
That is for Arvind Kejriwal to decide. I bring with me years of experience. I have worked closely with the Poorvanchalis. As AAP goes to polls in Punjab, I have already been inundated with phone calls from the Poorvanchali electorate there. Cities such as Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana have a large Bihari migrant population, mostly deprived daily wage labourers, who are exploited and are dragged into drug addiction. There is a lot that can be done for them. Then the Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls are coming up next year.
The AAP government and party legislators have been facing several allegations since it came to power last February. Does that make you wary?
Not at all. It is clear the BJP is frustrated at not being able to deal with its political opponent’s rise and has resorted to cheap politics. They (BJP) should have fought the AAP politically and not used the offices of the L-G or Delhi Police as their political tools. If an elected government is not allowed to work, then the assembly should be dissolved. On the ground people are really happy with the AAP government’s work.
How is it to work for a new party like AAP? How is it different from your stint in the BJP?
It is too early to comment but unlike the BJP, where it was very difficult to approach the party leadership, AAP’s top brass is more accessible. In BJP, we could hardly get to meet the tall figures like Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley. Just because my husband raised corruption issues within the party, senior leaders refused to keep the channel of communication open with me. AAP leaders are free-spirited and there is a lot of positive energy. Be it CM Kejriwal or any of his ministers or top leaders, they are like the aam aadmi in their personal lives too.
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