Rejecting the perception that “AAP exists only in the lower class”, party leader Arvind Kejriwal on Friday claimed the upper and middle classes were moving away from the BJP because its “fringe elements” were taking over and Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed to be “losing his grip” on the party.
Speaking to The Indian Express on the eve of Delhi polls, Kejriwal said the middle and upper classes had been shaken by the recent utterances of “BJP fringe elements… nonsensical voices like every woman should give birth to four-five children, girls shouldn’t wear jeans, can’t use cellphones… the upper class doesn’t like this, they want development, the middle class too doesn’t like it, people are saying Modi has no control over the BJP now. There is complete chaos.”
He said he was confident of support from among the upper class because “they are also saying we need a counter-check in democracy. Agar ek hi party ko saare states de diye, toh monster ban jayega (if one party gets all states, it will turn into a monster). So Delhi needs a government from a different party. This is their view, not mine.”
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Describing the Delhi elections as a “straight fight” between the AAP and BJP, he said the Congress was “nowhere in the picture”. “The biggest challenge is that the BJP is using every ploy… saam, daam, dand, bhed… we have to work within our means and counter every rival move.”
Asked if he would seek Congress support again if the AAP were to fall short of seats, Kejriwal said: “The situation will not arise… Will the Congress even get seats… the Congress is finished.”
In the event of AAP forming a government, he said he was ready with his list of priorities, including security of women, education and health. Issues like security of women would require working with the police which does not report to the Delhi government. That’s one reason, he said, why the AAP would press for full statehood status.
“I anticipate a problem on this issue (of Delhi being a half-state with no powers over police and land). We will keep on fighting for full statehood. But till such time, we will need cooperation from the Centre and police. We are looking at constructive cooperation and I hope they reciprocate… this time, we will deal with police in a different way. I have studied the law and Constitution… there are openings available for the Delhi government to work with the police,” he said.
He said education in Delhi needed a complete overhaul. “Goa has excellent government schools… if I am an education minister with a private school of my own, I will never want government schools to improve because there is a vested interest. In five years, we will make government schools in Delhi so good that even the well-off will voluntarily send their children to these schools.”
For that to happen, the government of the day has to have the “political will” to ensure infrastructure, autonomy and accountability. He said accountability could be achieved by creating facilities for teachers, and reward and punishment.