Delhi Chief Minister and national Convener of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Arvind Kejriwal talks to The Indian Express about mistakes party made in 2017 Punjab Assembly election, defection of his MLAs, shifting of Muslim votes to Congress in Delhi, party’s future plans and Delhi Assembly election.
You had said Punjab was ripe for AAP in 2017 Assembly election. Do you think you made some mistakes that it did not happen?
There could be many reasons. It is being said that one of the reason was that I stayed at someone’s house. (He had stated at the house of acquitted Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) militant Gurinder Singh in Moga). All these people (opposition parties) made it an issue. Inn logon ne bola ke Kejriwal aatankavadiyon se mila huya hai (they said kejriwal is hand in glove with terrorists). When I was in Barnala, I went went to a park for a morning walk. There I spoke to people from Hindu community. They started asking me questions. They asked me this question too. I asked them if I look like a terrorist? Door door sa lagta hu aatankvadi? Had I been a terrorist, I would not have set up schools for children. I should have trained them in guns and bombs. I would not have set up schools and hospitals.
Did you miscalculate?
Iss tarah ki gandi rajniti hamein karni nahi ati (We cannot do such type of politics). During the last 10 days, they did ‘badmashiyan’. They distributed a lot of money. Normally, I give everyone a call that they should take money from everyone but vote for AAP. I had said this during Delhi election. The Election Commission sent me a notice that if I repeat this they will de-recognise my party. We do not have money. Other parties distribute a lot of money. So by telling people to take money but vote for AAP, helped me in Delhi. But they disarmed me during Punjab Assembly election. Both the parties (Congress and Akali Dal) got together. I am told RSS people went to each and every house telling them that people should not vote for Congress. Akalis too did the same. Their votes were transferred at the mass level to Congress. Maur bomb blast was also conducted after I stayed in that house.
Your MLAs are defecting everywhere, in Delhi and in Punjab. Why are they not happy with the party?
A party has every type of people. Captain sahib (Chief Minister Amarinder Singh) is working only on our party. Why does he not break the SAD? They are mixed up. Tu meri biwi ko jita de mai teri biwi ko jita doonga (Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s wife Preneet Kaur is contesting from Patiala and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal’s wife Harsimrat Badal is contesting from Bathinda). Captain sahib is not taking any action against Badals in Bargari sacrilege case. He came to power with a promise to punish those guilty of sacrilege. But he shook hands with them. He has a setting with that party. Why does he not break SAD? It is a vicious attack on our party. Even a small worker is targeted. In Delhi, it is BJP and in Punjab it is Congress. They want to make Sukhbir Badal the Leader of Opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
Why don’t you give your MLAs a pep talk?
I do talk to them. I meet them. But some people are weak. They break. Some are greedy for money, some for a post, some give up due to coercion. Only God knows what they use against them. Recently, my seven MLAs in Delhi told me they were being offered Rs 10 crore by BJP.
How are you preparing for Delhi Assembly election scheduled early next year?
Delhi mein kaam bolta hai (Our work speaks in Delhi). People will vote for us on the basis of work we have done.
Would you go to polls with same faces?
Let us see. We will assess everyone’s performance.
How do you foresee the outcome of these Lok Sabha elections?
If they do not tamper with the EVMs, then Modi ji should not come back. These can be tampered with but I do not know whether they would do it or not.
Where do you see AAP in the scheme of things in Union Government 2019?
I have said it that if the union government is minus Modi and Shah, and it depends on how many seats we get, we will support the government on the precondition of statehood for Delhi.
How many seats are you getting in Delhi in LS election?
Let us see what happens. Actually, chunaav ke 48 ghante pehle tak saaton seat lag raha tha Aam Aadmi Party ko aayengi. Last moment pe complete Muslim vote got shifted to Congress. Last night, the night before election. We are trying to figure out ki hua kya hai. Poora ka poora Muslim vote jo hai woh Congress ko shift ho gaya. They are 12-13 per cent. (Until 48 hours before polling, it seemed like all seven seats will come to AAP. But at the last moment, the complete Muslim vote got shifted to Congress. We are trying to figure out what happened).
Are you looking at Punjab again in 2022?
Why in 2022? We are looking at Punjab even now. Bhagwant Maan will win. There should be few other seats also. But we will certainly do well in all other seats. I still sense a yearning for a change among people. Have you seen my programmes in Punjab for last three days? I have been getting a huge response.