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Business News/ Elections 2019 / Lok Sabha Elections 2019/  AAP will support any anti-Modi, anti-BJP govt if given statehood: Manish Sisodia
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AAP will support any anti-Modi, anti-BJP govt if given statehood: Manish Sisodia

Mint speaks to senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and deputy chief minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia on the party’s stakes in this election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and future alliances

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The national capital region, the neighbouring state of Haryana and 42 other seats across the country went to polls on Sunday. Mint speaks to senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and deputy chief minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia on the party’s stakes in this election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and future alliances. Edited excerpts of the interview:

What are the key issues for AAP in this election?

It is not about AAP. Broadly this election in Delhi is being fought between the BJP, AAP and the Congress. The BJP is saying that people should vote in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name. Modi is saying that people should vote in the name of Pakistan. AAP is fighting on health, education, electricity, and water. Along with that there were roadblocks that were introduced while we were trying to govern so our hands need to be strengthened. The Congress is saying we are the opposition party, vote for us. That does not happen. People vote for work. The election in the entire country and in Delhi is Modi and anti-Modi. People of Delhi know about the way he tried to stop the work in Delhi. People of Delhi are wise enough and they will vote to strengthen the hands of Arvind Kejriwal.

Do you think that the election will be about local issues in Delhi?

It is not about local issues or national. Education, health, employment, thriving businesses make the nation stronger and are national issues. Pakistan is not a national issue. Modiji never raises China though Doklam happened. Pakistan, international strategy, national security are issues. But if you question Modi on jobs, business, health, education he doesn’t have an appropriate answer. Terrorism is not only gun terrorism but also business terrorism. In the name of national terrorism, business terrorism is being allowed. There is a terrorist attack on the economy, which is impacting the people.

In the run-up to election, there were multiple attempts to stitch an alliance with Congress. What went wrong?

We never wanted an alliance just for Delhi. We wanted for 33 seats. They did not agree to that. We were ready to bring that number down to 18 seats. The Congress wanted an alliance just in Delhi. We felt we should not compromise in Delhi and that is what happened.

Like 2014, there is a three-cornered contest in Delhi. In the last election, the BJP had benefitted because of the division of votes. How does the party plan to counter that this time?

This time the Congress is nowhere. It is not a triangular contest but only between the AAP and BJP.

The entire AAP campaign is based on statehood. Do you think it is an issue that resonates with the people?

Statehood in terms of the word, people may not understand, but in terms of governance they have been seeing it for the last four years. People are seeing the work we want to do for them but that is getting delayed by a year. We had to hold protests. The kind of hindrances the central government puts, people have started understanding. People will give a decision on that and we are asking for votes on that. We want people to choose a central government that pushes forward the work of the state government and does not put unnecessary barriers.

How will the work of the AAP government impact the election?

People are understanding and seeing the work we have done in education, providing free water, and reducing electricity bills. The work we have done in four years will bring us a lot of benefit in this election. The work we have done is paying back.

Who do you see as your biggest competition in Delhi and why?

BJP is currently in power in the centre and has a lot of money. It is a strong contender. If we give ads on the radio today, if I have three ads playing, the BJP has 14. There is competition there and it is a challenge. When it comes to work, the BJP is nowhere. There is no state where the BJP has done work that it can show the people of Delhi. It has nothing to show.

The Congress is trying to revive itself in this election. They have brought back their old organization including former chief minister Sheila Dikshit. How do you see this?

I respect her, she is a former chief minister. I wish her good health right now. I have been seeing her road shows and she looks very weak. I wish she had not contested because of her poor health. The Congress should not have brought back the same faces that the people of Delhi have rejected twice. They won’t hurt us.

The alliance was an attempt to form an anti-BJP front across many states. Post election, would the AAP be willing to support an alliance led by the Congress?

This time I don’t think there will be a full-fledged NDA government. We will support any government that is anti-Modi, and anti-BJP on the condition of full statehood. AAP MPs will support such a government. In the current political scenario, I don’t think the government can be formed without the seven MPs (members of Parliament) from Delhi. The AAP is willing to support Congress but the statehood promise continues.

In 2014, AAP contested more than 400 seats. This election it is less than 40 seats. Has the party changed its national ambitions?

Last time, our volunteers were very enthusiastic to contest in all areas.The benefit of contesting in all those seats was that we were able to find where we had a chance. How would we otherwise have known we will win four seats in Punjab. We came second in a lot of seats. This election we have restricted ourselves in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Goa. The future of politics in the country is BJP- and Congress-free...Regional parties who do good work in their states and at the same time are able to run a federal government in the centre. We are moving towards that in India.

How is the party’s campaign in Punjab and Haryana going?

This time in Punjab, we are doing very well in 5-6 seats. We are focussing on states where we have an old vote bank. I am also going to campaign there from 13 May. We will go there with full presence after Delhi. In Haryana, we have an alliance with the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) and are contesting in three seats.

How does the party see Delhi’s outcome?

We think we can win all seven seats.

Hypothetically, if the BJP were to offer statehood for Delhi after election, would the AAP support?

You cannot have such an expectation from Modiji. It is a hypothetical situation. There are a lot of differences with the BJP. They have ruined the Reserve Bank of India, the Supreme Court structure, and the Central Bureau of Investigation. This is not right and we don’t agree with it. When the country is not in safe hands, then what statehood?

Nationalism has become very high in this Lok Sabha campaign. How doe the party plan to counter that?

Nationalism is of two kinds. One is a fictitious crisis nationalism. The kind of threat we have from Pakistan, we have from China, other places in the international world and the economy. There is another nationalism on which we are discussing which is fix education, health, employment and business opportunities. These issues should be the national issues. Progressive countries today have worked on things like education. Those who focused on war have been finished.

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Published: 13 May 2019, 12:36 AM IST
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