At this Idea Exchange moderated by Editor (Delhi) Rakesh Sinha,Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit says AAP has hurt its own chances and that the only way BJP can decrease power bills by 30 per cent is by giving 30 per cent less electricity
Rakesh Sinha: If you are re-elected,what more can change in Delhi? Also,do you think it is a triangular contest?
First,a lot has happened but there are still some areas of concern that we need to set right. It has reached a point that when Delhi is talked about,it is said that it is one of the best cities in the country,potentially one of the best in the world. But there are many people who do not have a voice. These voices have to be heard. Thats one aspect. Its only after December 8 that we will be able to tell you. Our manifesto broadly says what we intend to do in the next stage. As you know,Delhi witnesses huge migration with five lakh people coming here every year.
Maneesh Chhibber: The main accusation of the Opposition is that you claim credit for everything good,but when something wrong happens,you blame the Centre.
Well,its the job of the Opposition to oppose,its their right. I dont look for excuses. If I looked for excuses, we would not have achieved the kind of progress that we have. Delhi wouldnt have become the economic power that it is today. Indias GDP has developed at 8 point something per cent and Delhi has developed at 10.33 per cent. The per capita income here is the largest in the country. The Opposition feels that it will be able to do much better. How? I heard Nitin Gadkari say that they will make Delhi green. But it is already green. You can make it more green. I heard them say that they are going to bring commandos for womens safety. Can they? Are they not speaking out of ignorance? They say that they are going to start fast-track courts. We started fast-track courts a year ago. They said something about solar panels. Solar panels havent succeeded primarily because their maintenance is very difficult. They talk of 30 per cent decrease in power bills. I think the only way they can achieve it,unless they want the entire city to go bankrupt,is that they give 30 per cent less electricity. The cost of the power that we purchase has increased 300 per cent in the past 10-12 years. But still,the rate we are charging,or the DERC is charging,is 65 per cent.
Muzamil Jaleel: You are one of the most successful chief ministers of the Congress. The BJP also has a CM who is very successful. What do you think about Narendra Modi?
I dont want to say anything about Modi because I dont want to pass any personal comment. I think he is saying much about himself. Let the people judge.
Muzamil Jaleel: Do you see yourself as a prime ministerial candidate?
No. I am not like Modi.
Coomi Kapoor: How do you compare the development of Gujarat and the development of Delhi? The BJP holds Gujarat as a shining example.
If you look at the statistics of the Planning Commission,the Ministry of Finance and so on,I dont think Gujarat stands at the top. Delhi is,even though its a small state. I have statistics to prove that. I dont think Mr Modi has that. They stand sixth,seventh or eighth. But they say that their model should be adopted by the entire country.
I dont think we have dismissed them. AAP has dismissed itself because they came up with a jhadu and said,we are going to remove corruption. And you know the kind of sting operations that have happened. Ive read in the newspapers that they themselves said that we have got this much fund from Hong Kong,this much from the US,and more from somewhere else. In the paper today,they said that we didnt get funds from abroad. So theres a big question mark on Mr Kejriwals consistency and him certifying himself.
Apurva: In the manifesto,statehood is a big thing; also,the common economic zone for NCR. However,even though the UPA has been at the Centre and the Congress government in Delhi,it hasnt happened so far. What is going to change now?
I agree it hasnt happened so far,but I will continue to ask for it because I believe the governance of Delhi could be better and faster. And this time,we have said,dont give us full statehood. What we have said is that there should be a unified command. A state government having to run to the DDA, the Police Commissioner,Urban Development and Home Ministry,wastes a lot of time and energy. Things need to be done more expeditiously. There have been three studies on this and all of them said that the governing system of Delhi needs to be improved and that multiplicity delays things. All of NCR,including Noida and Gurgaon,should be part of a common economic zone. Ive said this for a long time and shall continue to say that it is best for the states of north India to have an economic powerhouse here.
Ruhi Bhasin: While in your manifesto and in your advertisements you talk of inclusive growth for migrant populations,in the past you have said that they are a burden on the citys infrastructure.
I have never said that they are a burden. I have said that people migrate to Delhi,and my statement was twisted for some reason. There are five lakh people coming into Delhi and we have very limited space. The answer to that is not to stop Delhis growth because they do contribute but to look towards other cities. Whoever comes to Delhi,never goes back. Its a good thing,but resources are limited.
Seema Chishti: Youre a successful,re-elected CM. Youve been in power thrice. Modi has been elected a couple of times. So has Manik Sarkar. Nevertheless,voter expectations can become a problem.
When I contested my first election in 1998,everybody said we came in on pyaaz. We did not come in on pyaaz,but because of bad administration. The second time,people said that no one has had a second term in Delhi and that it is a BJP stronghold. We overcame that. The third time,it was the same. But because of more and more development,the level of satisfaction became higher. People are disappointed with the bureaucratic systems which is a challenge we must take up next time. Weve already taken a few steps. If you go to a sub registrars office today,39 of them have become e-governed.
Prabhav Khandelwal (DPS,Mathura Road): I want to raise two issues one is the Amit Shah snooping case and the other is Gujarats Lokayukta Bill. The first an example of hypocrisy of the Modi government and the other an example of extreme political lawlessness. In your opinion,what would be the implications on Delhi and its policies if such a government came to power.
There is a Lokayukta in Delhi. The Lokpal Bill has to be passed by Parliament. So if someone were to say that we have to have a Lokpal right now,and they will have a session at the Ramlila maidan,it cannot happen. In Gujarat,after a lot of debate and criticism,the Lokayukta was nominated. The next step is the Lokpal. Yes,it can correct a lot of imbalances. But please dont think that it will be a medicine for all ills. Legislature balances the judiciary,the judiciary balances the bureaucracy.
Ashay Khandelkar*: The AAP manifesto mentions the Jan Lokpal Bill and says that they will introduce it. The Congress says that 90 per cent of all government services will have e-governance. Do you think e-governance is an alternative for Jan Lokpal?
E-governance makes things simpler. It is an alternative in the sense that it does not work on the whim and fancy of the bureaucrat sitting on the other side of the table. Its almost instant.
Kaunain Sheriff*: Considering that Rahul Gandhi is your star campaigner at both the state and central level,the rally at Ambedkar Nagar had a very low turnout. Do you think this time theres an anti-incumbency wave against the party?
What about the wonderful turnout in the rally before that? What about the wonderful turnout in Sonia Gandhis rallies? The Ambedkar Nagar rally was not badly attended,but our management was bad. We must concede that.
Aleesha Matharu: What do you think of the changes that Rahul Gandhi is making within the internal structure of the Congress? Do you think he is fully in control of the party?
He is second or third generation,whatever you want to call it. Hes got new ideas and anybody in a position of responsibility does bring about changes. But our changes are subject to the committees that we have. Some are accepted,some are not.
Apurva: Crimes against women and promises of womens security are all over the BJP,AAP hoardings. Youve always said that police are not under your government and that is a problem. But when we had BJPs CM candidate Harsh Vardhan at Idea Exchange,he said that it wasnt necessary. That even without that,there is enough that the Delhi government can do,but it hasnt.
Whatever the Delhi government could do,it did. We had fast-track courts within a week of what happened that time. Mr Sushil Kumar Shinde and I worked together with the then chief justice. The fast-track courts in Saket are functional. We set up a 24-hour CMs helpline. Its been almost a year now and we have received about five lakh calls. We have a tie-up with police thanas. Now were going a step ahead and will have four-five response vans of our own so that they can help immediately if the police cant. I dont know what Mr Harsh Vardhan said,but I saw a board of theirs talk about balatkaar. When Mr Harsh Varhan was the health minister ,an incident like this took place at his home. There are records of the Assembly elections.
Apurva: Womens security is a big issue this election.
I dont think so.
Maneesh Chhibber: Last year in Punjab,a splinter group of the Akali Dal ended up helping the Akali Dal by taking votes away from the Congress which was trying to make a comeback. Do you hope the AAP will do the same for you?
No,it would be a spoiler. Last time the BSP cut into our votes and got two seats. Triangular contests are there always,but the serious players that the people of Delhi recognise are only the Congress and the BJP.
Maneesh Chhibber: If there were things you could have done in the past five years,what would those be?
In Delhi,theres always something to do. The unauthorised colonies havent been authorised in the last 60 years. I feel that bureaucratic hurdles faced by common man need to be corrected. We should take Bhagidari to the next stage. It has been recognised all over the world. We feel the Ladli should become the common Ladli.
Pranab Dhal Samanta: How has migration changed the political terrain of Delhi and your agenda setting?
When people come to Delhi,they want a job. Delhis politics is not similar to other states. Its not based on caste or religion. Politics here is based on who does the work. This is how it has developed in the past 14 years. Take the case of people coming from Bihar. Earlier there wasnt a holiday for the Chhath festival,but now there is a restricted holiday. So there are demographic changes,but Delhi is used to it. After the Partition,people came from Punjab. Theres a huge population of Bengalis that came here when the capital was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi.
Raj Kamal Jha: Delhi is also the seat of UPA-II. How much is UPA-IIs anti-incumbency going to hurt you?
When people go out to vote,they are clear that they are choosing a government for Delhi. And when it comes to Parliament,they do not consider anti-incumbency of the state government.
Raj Kamal Jha: Is that also why you think that Modi doesnt have a role in the Delhi Assembly elections?
I dont think people in Delhi are expecting Modi to come here and govern.
Neha Dewan (DPS,Mathura Road): What do you think of vertical growth of Delhi for example high-rise buildings versus residential complexes?
Im a little personal about this. Probably Delhi would have to go that way,but as long as Im there,I wont like that to happen. The best thing about Delhi is the feeling of space. If you go to Barakhamba road where you have high-rises,its such an unattractive site. Go anywhere else in Delhi,its beautiful.
Rakesh Sinha: To go vertical will eventually have to happen.
Im not for vertical for Delhi. Its a unique capital,its a beautiful capital. Eventually,its okay. When Im dead and gone,it doesnt matter.
Prawesh Lama: Is the Commonwealth Games scam and also the success of the event an issue this election? There was a CBI investigation…
There was no CBI investigation. Some comments were made by the CAG and the Shunglu committee,Im talking about the government of Delhi. Every one of them was answered. I feel extremely upset when anyone,as an Indian,calls them shame games. Arent we proud of what we did? Delhi advanced five years before time because of the Commonwealth Games.
Prawesh Lama: Is it going to help then? Lot of things improved in Delhi traffic, infrastructure.
Yes it did. All these flyovers that you see,they werent here before that. Why did the Metro come to Delhi?
Prawesh Lama: Do you think people are going to keep that in mind when they vote?
I do. Give me anything that in the CWG,this chief minister,that officer did something wrong,you go to the court,find anyone corrupt. And what is the message that you are sending to the world? That we are corrupt! That we are a bunch of corrupt people,even when we are not. I dont accept that.
Ruhi Bhasin: Whats the reason that none of the major transport projects has taken off in Delhi?
The number of buses are adding on. We need double-decker flyovers because the traffic is growing enormously. We have the largest number of cars,and the more affluent people get,the more cars they are going to use. Tackling traffic is our greatest challenge. Whether it is the monorail or the tram system,we will do all that. BRT,I must admit,wasnt the kind of success we had hoped it would be. Therefore the other six corridors that we had planned,have been stopped. We are going to close this,it has broken down.
Ruhi Bhasin: You are talking of dismantling the BRT. What happens to the money spent on it?
If I want to carry on with it,I can till it becomes so bad that we have to repair it.
Naveed Iqbal: The Right to Education was passed in April. Some schools were supposed to shut down,but they werent. Is that because it is an election year?
Maneesh Chhibber: Tehelka chief Tarun Tejpal is blaming the BJP for the problem that has arisen. In his petition he says it is because of the BJP that I am where I am. Youre from the Congress,wed like to know your views.
Im from the Congress,but we dont indulge in this. Let the law take its course.
sharon thambala*: Apart from the tourism campaigns,how do you think the government can contribute more towards responsible tourism?
Delhi is a huge heritage city. The choice is whether to keep that intact or let people live around it. You go to Sarai Kale Khan or Nizamuddin,there are houses next to heritage structures. So you have to work out a system which is practical for both.
Aleesha MATHARU: Rs 1,000 crore was sanctioned for the safety of women in Delhi,but it hasnt been utilised.
This has been sanctioned for getting better equipment,so that the police are accessible faster. They are working on it. They have taken more women into the force,every thana has at least one lady constable. I agree it should be done faster.
Shikha Sharma: Youve been through many elections. How is this election different?
Every election is different. This election,we have got something called the AAP,that wasnt there earlier. Then the leadership of the BJP has changed.
Ritu Sarin: What is your reaction to this latest snoopgate,allegedly involving the Gujarat Chief Minister?
This is a technology which has developed… but I think some norms have to evolve.
Pranab Dhal Samanta: The National Minority Commission wants to convert some monuments into mosques.
Im not interested. There have been applicants fot it,but the law says no.
Transcribed by Shikha Sharma & Dipankar Ghose
* These are EXIMS students