New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to repeat in Delhi its election strategy that proved successful in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir: contesting without a candidate named for the chief minister’s post. The party has not named its candidates either, unlike rivals Congress party and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). In an interview, BJP’s Delhi unit president Satish Upadhyay said the party will contest under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and that candidates will be announced once the Election Commission announces the election date. The charisma of the AAP is over, he says, though he refuses to underestimate the party. Edited excerpts:

The BJP has changed its strategy in this election and the party is not announcing a chief ministerial candidate. Why has the party changed it strategy after it had announced the names of V.K. Malhotra and Harsh Vardhan in the last two elections?

There is a new strategy because we have learnt from our past experience and we are trying a new strategy in this election. The difference in strategy is also because during the last assembly election, Prime Minister was Manmohan Singh and now the Prime Minister is Narendra Modi; that is why we are contesting all the state elections under his leadership. This new strategy doesn’t mean that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will become chief minister; it only implies that Modi is our leader, he is our national leader and we will contest elections under his leadership.

The last government under Sheila Dikshit had underestimated the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which won 28 seats out of 70. How serious a threat is the AAP for the BJP?

As far as threat is concerned, the charisma of AAP is over. The promises made by AAP in the Delhi elections were same as the promises made by the party in the Lok Sabha elections but the party didn’t win a single seat in Delhi. Approximately, BJP had won in 60 assembly segments in the Lok Sabha elections. We are confident of winning elections but that doesn’t mean we are trying to underestimate any other political parties. All the parties, Congress or AAP, are the same for BJP. We are contesting on the basis of the work done by the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There is no complacency in BJP and we are not trying to be overconfident. We know that each booth has to be won to win a constituency. We had started ground work for election two months ago.

Continuing with the recent trend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the chief campaigner for the BJP in Delhi. Is it because there is no local face or a strong leadership in Delhi? Opposition parties have criticized a total lack of agenda.

Except AAP, Congress has also not announced its chief ministerial candidate. As far as BJP is concerned, it is our conscious decision not to announce a chief ministerial candidate. BJP had not announced a chief ministerial candidate in Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir also. The face of BJP for election is our working style, the work done by the central government. There can be only one leader and our leader is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Whoever wins under the leadership of Prime Minister, our elected members of legislative assembly (MLAs) will choose the chief minister in the legislative party meeting.

Your main rivals, Congress and AAP, have already started announcing names of contestants. Is BJP not losing out on time and the edge these parties may get in the constituencies?

It doesn’t matter at all. The Aam Aadmi Party doesn’t have internal democracy because it is a single-man party. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati used to announce names one year in advance but that didn’t help her at all in the Lok Sabha elections. We don’t have to compete with AAP or Congress. BJP has a democratic set-up and decision regarding election tickets is done by the election committee. There is talk of delay because we are being compared to Congress and AAP who have announced candidates. The fact is, assembly elections have not been announced by the Election Commission yet. It has never happened in the history of BJP that election tickets are given to candidates even before election is announced. As soon as election is announced, we will also announce candidates and we are fully prepared for it.

BJP is preparing a vision 2020 for Delhi. Can you share where the party wants to see Delhi in the next five years if it is able to form government in Delhi.

As far as BJP is concerned, the party wants total development of Delhi. It’s about green Delhi and clean Delhi. The new government must be able to solve the basic problems of Delhi, be it water, electricity, decongestion of traffic, hospitals have to be made more functional, the education system of Delhi needs to be streamlined, the natural water bodies of Delhi have to be revamped, Yamuna is one of the dirtiest and it needs urgent action. We have to build a new system to set up check points in the drainage system to clean Yamuna. We have to ensure that water is clean before it enters Yamuna and there should be effort to recycle water so that it can be used to parks which will increase greenery.

Power is a major concern in Delhi, especially faulty electricity bills. We have to use LED lights for street lights. We have to revamp working of discoms and they need to be audited.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has given 200 crore for improving the transmission lines; there is need for user portability in Delhi so that people can decide which service provider they want. The central government is working on this direction.

Many people come to Delhi and to the national capital region (NCR) in search of work, there is a need to build community hostels with kitchens, medical and recreational facilities. Similar hostels should be built in other parts of NCR, which can house 1,000 people and act as large dormitories—it will solve the residential problems of people who come to Delhi for work. These hostels should also be given ISO certification, it will set standards.

There is a need to decongest Delhi traffic, which is one of the biggest problems.

We have to modernize the public transport system. At present, we have 6,000 DTC buses. The ratio of number of buses to commuters is very low and there is an urgent need to improve it. There should be modernized ticketing facilities and better staff. There should be a comprehensive system to connect buses with the Metro also. We have very little space on the ground, so elevated roads have to be built. The eastern and western corridors have to be revamped to bring down traffic. Government must build car pooling systems for government offices, we have to provide bicycles so that people can use it, there should be more cycle clubs.

We have to increase tourism in Delhi. We must build open air restaurants in Delhi, youth with background of hotel management must be allowed to run coffee shops at important places to attract tourists, heritage walks must be organized in Delhi. Vendors are seen in parks; why can’t we have better, neat and clean eateries in these places? Ex-servicemen should be used to provide security in Delhi and it will also help security of women. There is a need to sensitize police and people involved in public dealings. There should be change in behaviour of government servants, people should not feel out of place when they go to government offices.

Health tourism has to be developed. Licensing departments have to be regulated, there is a need for 31 licences to open a new hotel in Delhi. There should be single-window system so that people don’t have to run from one department to another. There should be maximum use of CCTVs to increase security in Delhi.

There should be complete e-governance in Delhi administration and there should be e-tendering process in Delhi to end corruption of any kind.

Last time, the BJP lost at least 5-6 seats by less than 2,000 votes and the party fell short of majority in the Delhi assembly. What are the steps taken by the party to not repeat the same mistake in the upcoming polls?

I think the scenario of the last election was completely different. A new party had come in the forefront and raised the expectations of the people, but the same scenario is no longer present. People had lot of expectations and they had thought that the new party would deliver on its promises but it didn’t happen.

Some of the people who were power-hungry in that new party have forced this assembly election on the people within one year. It is because of this new party that an expense of 1,000 crore will be on the people of Delhi to hold assembly elections once again. I am sure that BJP will get a thumping majority this time in Delhi assembly election.