The Aam Aadmi Party Sunday announced that its Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab Raghav Chadha will be the co-in-charge of the organisation in poll-bound Gujarat, alongside MP Sandeep Pathak, both of whom had managed the party’s campaign in Punjab as well. The Indian Express spoke to Chadha about his appointment.
It seems like you have become the go-to person for AAP when it comes to elections and organisational work…
I would like to thank my mentor and party head Arvind Kejriwal ji for finding me worthy of the job. I pray to god to give me the strength to complete the task. Electioneering is teamwork. No one person can be a go-to guy. There is a go-to team and everyone has a role to fulfil in that machinery. The chief architect of our campaign is Kejriwal ji. Many people have come together under his leadership. Of these, many may have never heard a majority of names. People know me, they know Sandeep, but there is a whole team behind this, especially people from Gujarat. Many have been working there for years and everyone has a role to play.
How involved have you been in the campaign in Gujarat?
I have been involved on and off as a party leader. I visited Surat a few weeks ago when AAP member Manoj Sorathiya was attacked.
Will you be shifting your base from Chandigarh to Gujarat?
I will be spending much more time in Gujarat now, yes.
What is the biggest challenge you face there?
BJP in Gujarat is a well-oiled machinery with unlimited muscle, media and money power. It is like no other election. All media outlets have been given directions to blackout AAP… We understand that with BJP, no election is a level playing field, but this is at a different level. As a young leader, who resonated with the youth, I see that desire for change. Imagine, a 26-year-old girl in Gujarat has only ever seen one administration. AAP is a ray of hope. It brings a tried and tested model which has been welcomed by people of Delhi and Punjab. BJP is just offering more of the same. The fight is just between BJP and AAP. Congress is not in the picture.
Several AAP leaders in Delhi have been arrested or questioned by investigating agencies. Durgesh Pathak was questioned on Monday. How do you view this?
This is a classic case of abuse of power with the aim of eliminating the only leader (Kejriwal) who has emerged as the principal challenger to BJP. Today, they have called Durgesh, who has no connection with the liquor policy. He was elected as an MLA only a few months ago. He was called only because he is in charge of the MCD. The issue is not any irregularity or illegality, but the elimination of a leader who has emerged as the principal challenger, especially after Punjab.
You have been working with the Punjab CM for the past six months and before that, you were a part of the Delhi government. How different are the two environments?
The similarity is in the quest for basic amenities like bijli, paani, education and health. The difference is that Punjab, unlike Delhi, is a full state. As far as police or bureaucracy is concerned, there is greater authority and, therefore, greater responsibility. Punjab is also a border state, which comes with its own challenges. The law and order situation we inherited from our predecessors was in shambles. Brick by brick, we are rebuilding. Delhi suffers because of the multiplicity of authorities.