By Gaurav Sharma
New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal is very confident of winning the Delhi elections as he gives sleepless nights to the two main parties – Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Kejriwal, a former Indian Revenue Service officer, promises “good governance” to the national capital by ridding it of the two parties whom he refers to as “dalals”, or middlemen.
“Ruling Delhi is not rocket science. All you need is good intentions which were missing till now,” Kejriwal told IANS in an interview.
With Delhi assembly elections due Dec 4, an extremely busy Kejriwal, 45, spoke to the IANS correspondent while travelling from his house in Ghaziabad bordering Delhi to a campaign destination in east Delhi.He brushed aside allegations of being an “upstart” and arrogant.
The Magsaysay award winner attributed “unbridled corruption” by the Congress and BJP to the meteoric rise in popularity of the AAP, which was formed a year ago and whose advent is poised to end the bipolar polity of Delhi.
Until two years ago he was virtually unknown, but today his face stares at you from the back of thousands of auto rickshaws across the city, holding the ‘jharu’, or broom, his party symbol, with which he promises to clean up the muck in politics.
“The success of AAP is less because of us and more because of the corruption of the two existing parties in Delhi. Both these parties are in bed together. They indulge in corruption together,” he said.Asked how he feels about having made AAP a force to be reckoned with in such a short time, the mild-mannered Kejriwal said: “I only represent the voice of ordinary people. People just empathise with us and see us as very ordinary people. They see honesty and courage in us.”
He dismissed the notion that “inexperience” of AAP could be a roadblock for it to defeat the Congress, which has ruled Delhi for the past 15 years, and BJP – both of which have muscle and money power.”They have experience in looting the country. We will teach them politics and we are setting an agenda for it in Delhi. We do everything and these two parties follow us after 10 days,” he said.
Kejriwal’s innovative style of campaigning has certainly paid dividends for the party – whether it be advertising on the back of auto-rickshaws, using the unglamorous but significant poll symbol of the jharu, activists and supporters donning the white Nehru cap with the words “Main aam admi hoon” and door-to-door campaigning.
Over 10,000 auto-rickshaws plying in the city have posters of Kejriwal plastered on their backs – a cheap but effective way of campaigning, which the BJP now has picked up.AAP is projecting the assembly elections as a battle between honesty and corruption- thereby capturing the imagination of people.
Kejriwal, a diabetic, follows a punishing schedule. He claims to have visited all 70 constituencies in Delhi which he doubts any politician would have done.Interestingly, over 100 First Information Reports have been filed against AAP for violating the electoral model of conduct.
“We are the only party which is doing campaigning. They (other parties) say that they will manage it in the last three days. So they are not doing any campaigning,” he reasoned as his modest Wagon R car sped towards his party’s ‘Jhadu Chalao Yatra’ (Wield the Broom March) in east Delhi.
Earlier, sitting at his breakfast table in his middle-class home Kejriwal told IANS that the hectic campaigning has taken a toll on his health.”Earlier I would get up at 4.30 a.m., but since I reach home really late nowadays I get up at 6.30 now,” Kejriwal, who studied to be a mechanical engineer from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
On the government decision to probe the alleged foreign funding of AAP, he said: “If they want to check our accounts they can go ahead. Why don’t they check Congress and BJP accounts too? Congress received Rs.2,000 crore of funds – from where?. BJP received Rs.800 crore of funds from where? They are not checking those accounts.”
Kejriwal, who is also his party’s probable chief ministerial candidate, is fighting from the New Delhi seat against three-time chief minster Sheila Dikshit – a towering political figure.”Sheila Dikshit is the most unpopular face of Delhi. Sheila Dikshit is scared, that is why she has refused my invitation to a debate. There are so many skeletons which she does not want to talk about,” he said when asked how he would pull off a win against her.
He lashed out against the BJP too.”There is no opposition. Had the BJP been an effective opposition, Delhi wouldn’t have been so bad,” he said.Kejriwal said if voted to power he will strive for “full statehood” for Delhi which he says none of the parties could do.
The opinion polls may have predicted that Delhi is headed for a hung assembly, but Kejriwal is supremely confident of winning 47 constitutes and calls the situation of fractured mandate as ” hypothetical.”On Dec 8 when the poll results are out it will be known whether AAP was able to turn the adulation and support into votes to rule the city of over 16 million.