Another Googly from Kejriwal
Unlike Modi’s scripted appearance at a popular news show, Arvind Kejriwal’s attempts to reach out to his audience through a popular internet forum saw him dishing out platitudes, albeit with all sincerity
Souzeina S Mushtaq Delhi
Reaching out to the aam cyber janta, Aam Aadmi Party leader and former chief minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal fielded questions from the public at a Google Hangout hosted by CNN-IBN. The hour-long interaction saw a range of people –students, first-time voters, yuppies – posing all sorts of questions for Kejriwal. In spite of a grilling from host Rajdeep Sardesai, the AAP leader calmly answered all the queries, while also cross-questioning Sardesai, particularly over Modi.
After its 49-day government ended abruptly in Delhi, the AAP has been criticized for “running away from the responsibilities”, which according to analysts, has caused a “trust deficit” among the citizens. In fact, the first question of the interaction that came from Sanjit Oberai, a data analyst with an NGO, was exactly that. He asked Kejriwal, “How will you manage the affairs of the country, if and when you become PM of India, because at the end of the day you left Delhi within 49 days.”
Kejriwal, summarizing the achievements of the party and the work done in 49 days, said it was the BJP and the Congress who ran away. “I am here. I did not go anywhere. If I had run away, I would have never contested,” he said. “It was BJP and the Congress who joined hands against us and did not let us pass bills in the Assembly. We have changed strategy at times, but we have not changed our position to do anything immoral or unethical,” he added.
He said that people are unhappy because they want AAP back in power. “If there are re-elections, people will vote for us and we will come back with a majority.” He admitted that the AAP has created chaos, but only for “the established parties and powerful interests.”
He did, however, concede that the party had resigned from governance in Delhi hastily. But he defended the decision, claiming it was the right thing to do nonetheless. “We should have gone to people after resigning to avoid the communication gap. That was our mistake,” he said.
Kejriwal also stressed on the need for improvement in the standards of education in the country, saying the government schools need to be upgraded to the level of private schools.
When asked about his alleged interaction with, and seeking of support from mafia-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, who opted out of the electoral race in Varanasi, Kejriwal insisted they had not met him or asked for any support. “Neither have we taken the support of Mukhtar Ansari, nor has he offered it. There is no question of taking his support,” he said.
When asked why he was contesting from Varanasi instead of Delhi, where he could have easily won, Kejriwal said the objective was not coming to power but rather fighting corruption. “If my goal was to be in Lok Sabha, I could have fought in Delhi as well. That is not my objective. We are only concerned with the voters. It is them who we are asking to come together,” he said.
Denying the “Modi wave”, he said if there were any wave, Modi would have not contested from Vadodra. “He is scared. He knows there is no Modi wave.”
On whether the focus of the AAP has shifted from fighting against corruption to fighting against Modi, Kejriwal said both Modi and Rahul Gandhi symbolized corruption. “Rahul and Modi are part of the same system that we want to change. Therefore, it is important to challenge and defeat them,” he said. According to him, Kumar Vishwas is winning against Rahul Gandhi by over two lakh votes in Amethi.
He also challenged the notion that the AAP was a B-team of Congress. “When we raised corruption in Congress, including the Robert Vadra case, we were called the B-team of BJP. Now when we are raising BJP's corruption, and the problems in Gujarat, we are called the Congress B-team.” The former CM also called for a debate on the Gujarat model with Narendra Modi. The Gujarat model, supposedly, favours the industrialists. “Land from poor farmers is grabbed and handed over to Adani. The Gujarat model is about the suicide of the poor Gujarat farmers.” Kejriwal added the data on Gujarat farmers suicide was from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Regarding foreign funding, Kejriwal clarified that the AAP had taken no money from Ford Foundation. “In fact, the court has found the BJP and Congress guilty of foreign funding,” he said. He called for a check on the foreign funding of the two parties. About his views on Reliance’s K-G basin issue, Kejriwal said if a government is a partner in any entity, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) should be allowed to audit.
Alleging that the BJP was planning to buy AAP legislators once the polls got over, Kejriwal also accused the Congress of not taking serious measures to recover black money stashed abroad.
Calling Kashmir an “integral part of India”, Kejriwal said there should be no doubts about it. “What Prashant Bhushan said were his personal views, but after discussion, he changed his views. Had there been any conflict, we would have parted ways,” he said.
Refuting that economic growth and corruption can go hand in hand, Kejriwal said such growth only benefited the corrupt and powerful. “If stability was the only issue, then Manmohan Singh gave this country the most stable government for 10 years. What was the problem with that?”
When asked what would happen to AAP if Rahul Gandi and/or Modi won, Kejriwal said the question was not about AAP, “we are here, and we will fight against corruption till the end,” he said before signing out.