The Congress’s Satpal Singh Raizada had defeated the BJP’s Satpal Singh Satti in a keen contest for the Una Assembly seat by 3,196 votes in 2017. However, he felt Satti, the state BJP president, was still calling the shots and no official was willing to listen to him. Raizada recently created a ruckus at the BDO office in the presence of the media, and things started changing. He speaks to The Indian Express on a range of issues. Edited excerpts:
Why did you create a scene at the BDO office?
I had sanctioned money from my MLA fund for constructing a village road. But the money was not being utilised. Whenever I took up the matter with the officers concerned, various excuses were given. My patience ran out. That is why I decided to stage a dharna at the BDO office. I am thankful to the media for supporting my cause. Now things have started falling into place.
You are also upset about gyms.
Yes, I am. My constituency borders Punjab, where drug abuse is rampant. Our youth too are falling prey to drugs. Gyms are a good way to channelise youthful energy. But I am told I cannot give money from my MLA fund for gyms. Guidelines clearly say I can, many MLAs have given money from MLA funds for gyms, but I cannot. I had raised the issue in the Assembly but nothing came of it. Illegal sand mining is going on unabated in our area. I had highlighted it in the House, but nothing happened. There is no point in raising issues in the Assembly if no action is taken on them.
Gyms are dear to you and they played a big role in your victory.
True, they indeed played a big role. For that, I am thankful to Vikas Labroo, the then Deputy Commissioner of Una. One day, I along with a bunch of boys went to him asking for funds to open a gym. He expressed inability to grant money and asked instead why I can’t give money to the boys. I came back disappointed. Then I thought why not, and gave money to the boys. Then more boys came and they asked for money for another gym. This way, I ended up financing the setting up of around 40 gyms in my constituency. Gyms became a glue, and many youngsters came in my close contact. They backed me in the Assembly election in a big way.
Your party is facing a leadership crisis. Every day resignations are pouring in.
Only Rahul Gandhi worked selflessly in the elections. All other leaders had their hidden agendas. He should continue as president.
What does the party need to do to bring back its old glory?
Organisational set-up should be restructured. Frontal organisations like Youth Congress and NSUI should revert to nomination system instead of election system. Bodies such as Seva Dal should be activated so that Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy reaches the grassroots level.