Aam Aadmi Party’s national executive member from Karnataka talks to Kaunain Sheriff about poll plans.
AAP has recently launched the Lok Sabha election campaign in the state. Tell us more about the campaign and the challenges that AAP faces?
There are certain challenges we face. In Bangalore city, people definitely know the party, but in Karnataka as a whole, a lot of them have not heard of the party, essentially because we started a little late. However, volunteers from the state were involved in critical positions during the Delhi campaign. We were the third biggest contributor. Moreover, the involvement was so high that until and after the Delhi elections, we had not started our proper groundwork in the state. However, after the Delhi election results, we set up 10 helpline numbers as we were getting numerous calls across the state. Now we have a full-fledged call centre, a political office as well as a backend office for HR, IT team and the legal team.
What has the response been to the AAP campaign in the city?
Apart from going through the process of candidate selection, we have launched the door-to-door campaign in the city. Within 10 days, we have covered around 9,000 houses in the city. The response we are getting is just tremendous. Our challenge is to reach people. We can never compete in the traditional way. The campaign would be out of the box. We have slum campaigns; we have crowd-sourcing campaigning where the contributor feels he is part of the campaign. The ‘I funded Aam Aadmi’ campaign will start during the weekend. We also have “sponsor your candidate” in the urban areas. These campaigns are not just about fund raising but they are also about creating visibility.
What is AAP going to project as key issued during the campaign in the state?
Decentralization, good governance and corruption would be the central issues. The problems and solutions are known but there is no political will to tackle it. The illegal mining and that money used in real estate in the city has made the state one of the most corrupt in the country. Sixty five percent of the taxes come from only one city. We need more than one growth area in the state.
Because there are stakes in protecting the real estate, the government does not want to decentralize the economic growth in the state because the value of their land holdings will go down in the city. People will now understand through our campaign about the land encroachment in Bangalore. About 8000 acres in Bangalore city has been encroached which could have provided housing for 10 lakh people. We will tell people to stand up and ask for their rights. The water problem, the garbage menace are due to corruption and mafias in the city. People do not completely comprehend the effect of mis-governance and corruption in the state.
Your comments on political opponents in the state?
BJP was defeated because of corruption. Congress CM made promise of providing a clean government but within six months he has changed that stance by inducting ministers into the cabinet. Today for the sake of votes BJP has hugged Yeddyurappa.
Therefore, the choice for the citizen is no longer between the devil and the deep sea. Now they have a choice that is a clean party.
Tell us more about the candidates who have applied for the party tickets?
Around 300 people have applied across the state. The list has people from diverse background whether it’s the age group, income levels, from a farmer to CEO’s from the corporate sectors have applied. The list will be out soon.
The state is dominated by caste-based electoral politics. How will you face this challenge?
To be frank, the love and affection we have received from minorities, dalits and farmers is just shocking. People who have been used as vote bank have huge anger, and now they are asking what you have done for us. They do not talk to us in the traditional way; they talk to us about schools, health and poverty. They are embracing the party because we do not treat them as a ‘cattle’.
Will Arvind Kejriwal campaign in the city?
Kejriwal will be in the state soon. He will spend a lot of time in the state and will be touring, visiting the critical constituencies.