The Union Minister and BJP’s Delhi election in-charge Prakash Javadekar on barbs at the Chief Minister, the Centre’s approach towards Shaheen Bagh, and how his party hopes to counter AAP on subsidies.
IE: Two days before voting, how is the BJP placed in Delhi?
Prakash Javadekar: The Modi model of governance has been appreciated, as opposed to what people saw in the Delhi government, which was only quarrelling. He (CM Arvind Kejriwal) did not allow the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in Delhi, Rs 6,000 each to Delhi farmers. He delayed the hanging of the December 16, 2012, gangrape convicts and stopped Phase 4 of the Delhi Metro for three years over the nominal issue of funding. Even now, he is sitting on a file to remove kikar trees for the Dwarka highway, though even the Supreme Court has said these are not good quality trees and ought to be removed. And in the last six months, he suddenly wakes up and gives concessions, which nobody believes will be permanent.
BJP has come out with laudable schemes to rebuild Delhi, with regularisation of unauthorsied colonies, ‘jahan jhuggi wahan makaan’, more floor area ratio for group housing societies. Legal hurdles have been removed for development.
They (the AAP and its leaders) have, meanwhile, supported Shaheen Bagh, an anarchy where Sharjeel Imam comes and says he wants to break India and North East must be cut off, and the country must become an Islamic state. That’s the vision with which they want to work, and Kejriwal and these citizens want to support it.
IE: The people of Shaheen Bagh, though, are as much your citizens as those in neighbouring Sarita Vihar. So when a party’s leadership, in speech after speech, focuses on vilifying a set of people, isn’t their insecurity justified?
Prakash Javadekar: They are our citizens. See, CAA has nothing to do with anybody’s citizenship. But their main demand is to withdraw CAA, which is an unjustified demand, or fear mongering done in the community. Whoever comes to us, we discuss with them and they leave satisfied.
IE: Even if one agrees they are misguided, there are two approaches to deal with them — one is discussion….
Prakash Javadekar: They have not asked us, but sat on a dharna; they have not sent any letter that they want discussion. Our doors are always (open), wherever an agitation happens and whoever comes for dialogue, whether it is trade unions or anybody, whoever approaches for discussion. But these people have not. You cannot expect ministers will go there, because they are not just misguided but they are hitting journalists, giving platform to people raising anti-national slogans. There have been incidents of children saying ‘we will kill Modi and Amit Shah’. Do you expect the government will hold dialogue with such elements?
IE: But there have been incidents in the past when interlocutors have been appointed by the government for talks.
Prakash Javadekar: I have not seen any request from them (for talks) in your newspaper.
IE: But if the government is the mother and citizens its children, shouldn’t the government go to them?
Prakash Javadekar: The rule in a democratic system is that if someone has sat without legal permission, then they have to approach, the government can’t go everywhere. And our police has not distrurbed them, they go everyday and request them (to disperse).
IE: Every now and then there are statements by some leaders that roads will be cleared on Febryary 11 (day of results)?
Prakash Javadekar: That is simple — the political judgement is that this is politically motivated, so what happens on the 11th matters. If BJP wins, people will on their own disperse — that is what some people think and they spoke.
IE: Referring to your anarchist remark, the CM told us that whenever one tries to disrupt a sytem in bad shape, he is termed an anarchist.
Prakash Javadekar: But when you try to disturb the January 26 parade, which no Chief Minister has thought of? Isn’t it anarchist to not grant permission to police to prosecute those who say ‘Bharat tere tukde honge, Inshaallah, Inshaallah’.
IE: Your MP has also called the CM a terrorist but remains unapologetic.
Prakash Javadekar: We always take corrective measures if our MPs make bad statements. Already the election commission has taken cognizance.
IE: What about the party intervening?
Prakash Javadekar: We always tell people to maintain restrait in speeches.
IE: Looking at your campaign — CAA, Article 370 — an outsider might think it is for the national elections.
Prakash Javadekar: We are running a development-oriented campaign; the media always picks up juicy things, and development is not juicy for the media.
IE: Subsidies are AAP’s major poll planks, some of your leaders have said these are inducements…
Prakash Javadekar: Our politics is of empowerment. We are giving Rs 2 lakh to each girl child born to a poor family. We want to give cycles to each girl child who goes to school, scooty to college girls. We are doing politics of empowerment and Congress and AAP are doing politics of entitlement. We want to increase pension. Modi ji has provided gas chullah, bank account, house, electricty, toilets, houses — but there is a theme of why to give and whom to give. We are on the forefront (of social welfare schemes), not them. They came to power on the basis of Jan Lokpal, but it was passed by the Modi government and has already started functioning. Now, they are saying they will try to roll it out in the next five years.
IE: Two Deputy Commissioners of Police being pulled up by the Election Commission is unusual during an election campaign. Allegations are being levelled of the Home Ministry’s interference.
Prakash Javadekar: I don’t want to speak on the decision of the EC because India has the best election commission. Police are doing an extremely important duty. The AAP and Congress legislators instigated mobs to pelt stones on police, burning cars and buses, looting shops. Was there any lathi charge? Police have shown restraint to a great extent. They were injured but they still did not react, nobody fired.
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