After a huge Lok Sabha win, BJP has been facing one setback after another in the states. How do you view this trend in Delhi’s context?
Delhi is different from other states; whenever we do well in Jharkhand, we don’t do well in Delhi (laughs). So, if you look at this that way, Delhi will be good to us this time.
These days, there is a new trend of our longstanding alliance partners becoming demanding — something the BJP doesn’t encourage. For instance, AJSU in Jharkhand has been a natural ally, but it demanded 22 seats. How can we do that? Finally, they won just two. In Maharashtra, you saw Shiv Sena contest in alliance with us but later go with someone else. Or they make demands that were never on paper… We don’t want to reach a stage where people can force us to do something; we will not sacrifice our principles at the altar of power.
In Maharashtra, the mandate was for BJP and allies. Tell us where Shiv Sena contested without using Modi ji’s posters? We respect Balasaheb Thackeray ji but you used Modi ji’s photo to win. We saw for the first time that votes were for Modi ji, for BJP, but someone else formed the government.
Why do you feel allies are suddenly ‘demanding’?
Political flaws are seen from time to time. BJP is of the belief that if people have given us the mandate, we will run the country as per our vision, honestly. And if BJP will say something, it will do it. People who mocked us earlier saying “Ram lalla hum ayenge, mandir wahin banayenge, par tarikh nahi batayenge” are now silent. They know we reach the goal. Talk about 370, CAA, triple talaq, we achieved it without majority in Rajya Sabha. We believe that to come to power in states, we won’t compromise on our principles.
Our first aim is to ensure people run their household smoothly, which is why we give houses, toilets, gas connections and Ayushman Bharat, so that if someone gets sick, they get medical assistance of up to Rs 5 lakh. When it obstructed the scheme’s implementation, did AAP think about the voter? No. We started Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to give houses to the poor, but Delhi government did not implement it. Amit Shah ji also said he was shocked at Kejriwal ji’s behaviour. He said Kejriwal ji is a rich man, he doesn’t want a house, but the poor do. Why is he stopping that?
We first talk about running one’s household and then about issues that are associated with the country’s pride. Ram Mandir is important to me because in a country where Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains are allowed to practice their faith anywhere, why should people from the majority have to yearn for a Ram temple?
AAP has offered subsidies in several areas; do you feel trapped as a result?
We have not been trapped, Kejriwal is trapped. We will give better facilities, and not just for three months but 55 months… No government can open a free shop… There are some things that need to be free for the poor.
What schemes do you plan to bring to counter AAP?
Under our scheme, we plan to give big benefits to weaker sections, which will bring relief to women, senior citizens and students while commuting. We want to give benefits to all three sections and for 55 months, not three months.
So subsidy that currently exists for all will be limited to the weaker section?
The current definition of weaker section is below poverty line. We are in the process of creating a line above that. Suppose, if someone’s income is Rs 20,000 — it can be more or less — then we will give them these facilities. There are people who earn well and don’t want these subsidies.
Won’t it hurt you electorally if you curtail subsidies to the weaker section?
A rich person will not get the benefit of 200 units free. We will redefine weaker section; this section is the one that needs subsidy the most. Things AAP promises during elections are not schemes but a temptation. Delhi’s public views this in a negative light. You offer these things if you can’t show the work you have done.
Every government has a fixed budget and demands of all sectors have to be fulfilled in that amount. There are people who say they do not want free water, only clean water. Everyone in the city buys either ROs or bottled water. Saying you have given free water is a joke when every house is buying this. We will bring clean tap water to every household and remove ROs. Secondly, we don’t want accolades based on 10 schools where you improve infrastructure and let 1,000 other schools remain the way they are. We don’t want students to be failed in class IX. In class IX, 4.98 lakh students have been failed so results in class X are not poor. What sort of an education policy is this? We will not allow this.
How do you view anti-CAA protests across the capital?
It was a big conspiracy to disturb peace in Delhi and it was pre-planned. Delhi was at the epicentre of what happened across the nation. The institution that lit the fire was Congress. We passed the bill in Rajya Sabha on December 11; it was notified by the President on December 12; and nothing happened even on December 13. On 14th, there was a rally at Ramlila Maidan called by the Congress and people who came in buses from outside incited violence in Jamia and Okhla. On 15th, we saw violence on the roads. Other parties also joined in for the sake of votes. They thought Muslims are going to Congress, so the AAP also jumped in.
Wasn’t the police decision to storm Jamia Millia Islamia excessive?
No, and I say this because a few rowdy elements gave a bad name to students. Police had nothing to do with the students. When police tried to push back rowdy elements — we cannot let people become violent and set buses on fire — they ran away. 400-500 slippers were found on roads; students don’t come out wearing slippers. Should the police not arrest these people? Police entered the campus to catch them. When they entered the library, police did not follow them. There were two groups of students in the library and one started breaking things inside, alleging it was the doing of the police. There is not a single policemen in the video.
Why is BJP not announcing a CM face? Is it to keep small groups (in the party) happy?
We have followed this several times in the past. The election committee has been formed and elections will be fought under the leadership of the state president (Tiwari).
But Delhi’s campaign has been personality driven for several years.
When you are not in power for 20 years and several leaders are in the race, it is tough to put forth one face. The most important things are our policies and principles. Fighting polls under state president means our policies are at the forefront. Once someone is elected, they remain the face for several years. Modi ji is an example of that.
How many seats do you believe you will win?
As of today, my assessment says we will win 47-48 seats. In Lok Sabha, we took the lead in 65 assembly segments but we understand assembly elections are different. Till some time ago, we thought we were neck and neck with AAP but after the decision to regularise unauthorised colonies, we have increased our lead.