NEW DELHI :
The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) biggest strengths are its track record in Delhi and the campaign it has built up, said Atishi, the party’s Lok Sabha candidate from East Delhi. In an interview, she claimed people see AAP as the one party capable of defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Delhi. Edited excerpts:
What are the big issues in this election?
This election is being fought at two levels. One is the national level—this is a very polarized election. A lot of people are coming out to vote against the BJP. These are people who are disillusioned, those who had voted in 2014 on the plank of development. There are also a lot of ground-level issues which come up when we are going to the people, like college education, lack of PCR vans, illegal sale of alcohol, shortage of hospitals. This is the second level on which this election is being fought.
Do these issues resonate with the people?
In India, people go to their MP also for problems related to electricity and water. People are also disillusioned because last time they voted on a national narrative and nothing happened. People are now more interested in local issues.
The alliance with the Congress did not work out. Is there a fear the anti-BJP vote will get divided?
When Congress said no to a pan-north India alliance, a Delhi-only alliance was not needed for the AAP. We are enough to make the BJP lose in the seven seats in Delhi. We wanted an alliance across Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. These seats could be the difference between Narendra Modi becoming the PM and not.
You have raised several complaints against the BJP candidate Gautam Gambhir. What is the progress on that?
I don’t think I need to do anything against his nomination. He himself is struggling to contest this election. He is an excellent cricketer but when it comes to politics, he himself said that it would take him two-and-a-half years to get into a debate on East Delhi. If that is the case, then contest elections later! He doesn’t know the basic rules of democracy. He has two voter IDs, there was a problem in his nomination papers, doesn’t take permission for rallies, pamphlets they don’t print properly —then what sort of an election is he fighting?
How do you see the Congress role?
Congress in Delhi’s politics has the third place reserved for them. Be it municipal elections, state or national elections—in every election, Congress has come third. Congress is virtually out of the fight.
What are the challenges that the AAP is facing?
We are having a great campaign as of now. We are the only party that announced their candidates almost a year ago. The real strength of the AAP is the work that we have done earlier and the campaign that we have built on the ground.
How do you take on the nationalism narrative?
People voted for the BJP for jobs, markets to pick up, development and not for Hindu-Muslim tensions, lynching, Jat violence. There is a large segment of voters who want to see the BJP out. The disillusioned voter is one that sees AAP as the only option. This election is far less about national issues.
Does your hyper-local image impede your national presence?
One level of this election is the anti-BJP vote and the second is the local level. As far as the anti-BJP vote is concerned, AAP in Delhi is seen as the party that can defeat the BJP. Across states, you can see that the anti-BJP voter is choosing the party that can defeat the BJP.
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