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‘Even If It’s My Son’: ‘Kattar Imaandar’ Kejriwal Says MCD Polls Answer to BJP’s Corruption Bogey

Come December 4 and the Delhi Durbar will be set to decide who wears the crown in the MCD polls — BJP, which has held the reins for the past 15 years, or the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has emerged as one of the strongest alternatives to a dying opposition. Pitted against each other, both the parties have been trading barbs over unfulfilled promises and corruption.

Amidst the war of words, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal spoke to CNN-News18 about his party’s chances in the municipal polls, the alleged witch-hunt against his popular colleagues and why the AAP is the best choice for Delhi.

Edited excerpts:

Despite winning 67/70 seats in 2015, AAP failed to win the MCD polls in 2017. What makes you think this time will be different?

At that time, we had completed just two years. We had initiated many good programmes but they did not have an impact on the minds of the people. Now, we have completed seven years. People have given a lot of love to the party, people are watching the work done by AAP and are confident of the party. In the past 15 years, BJP has not left any stone unturned when it comes to corruption. The whole of Delhi has turned into a garbage yard. People are watching. They feel that the time has come to remove BJP from MCD and give one chance to the AAP.

Anti-incumbency of the BJP is one factor. What about the challenge from the Congress?

Congress does not exist in Delhi.

Are you sure that Congress will not be able to perform at all?

I don’t think Congress will be able to win any significant number of seats.

Your poll pitch is ‘Kejriwal ki Sarkar, Kejriwal ka Parshad’. Why do you feel Delhi will reject BJP’s pitch of a ‘double engine’? They are in power at the Centre so if they are in power in the MCD too, it will help people get their work done. Why do you think people will not vote for BJP?

In Delhi, we have our government. In MCD, it is more or less decided that AAP will form the government. So now whatever work is to be done in Delhi, we will get that done. To give an instance, even drains and roads that are close to each other were divided into different jurisdictions between the AAP and MCD (BJP). There was so much confusion. After we form the government in MCD too, each road, each drain will come under AAP. Now, even if by mistake some people elect a BJP or Congress councillor, their work will not be done. The next five years will become hellish because that councillor will just fight.

So, I would appeal to the people of Delhi — it is possible that you may be supporters of the BJP or Congress but in these elections, think about your own interest.

Sanitation is one of the biggest issues that you have raised in these elections. You have promised that if AAP wins MCD elections, you will turn Delhi into a beautiful and clean city. But your opponents point out that you have not been successful in tackling pollution or cleaning the Yamuna. How will you build confidence in the people then?

When the 2020 assembly elections were held in Delhi, we had improved the condition of education, health, and electricity. In 2020, I had said that if the people give me five years, I will tackle issues of pollution in the Yamuna and air pollution. I had said that if by 2025, the Yamuna is not clean, then don’t vote for me. So, I have five years. However, this election is not about cleaning the Yamuna. These elections are about the garbage in Delhi, the filth in Delhi, and about cleaning up the capital. So, with these issues, we are asking the citizens of Delhi to give us one opportunity. They (BJP) did not do it for the past 15 years. Now, the time has come for change. Give us one opportunity, we will show that we can clean the garbage in Delhi.

Another issue that you are targeting BJP with is corruption. AAP has run a campaign alleging that MCD (ruled by the BJP) is one of the most corrupt organisations. BJP is also targeting you on corruption. JP Nadda, the BJP president, for instance said AAP is drowned in corruption. In this case, when both parties are accusing each other of corruption, where do the people go?

Ask the people of Delhi who is corrupt. A couple of days ago, when I stopped at a traffic signal, the window was open and a woman came and grasped my hand. She said they took a bribe of Rs 50,000 for a licence but did not give it to her. She is a trader. They have not spared any effort in looting Delhi. In the MCD, not a single work gets done without money.

On the other hand, if you look at the Delhi government, take the instance of the transport department where everything is online now. You get your licence online. I want to instil confidence in the people of Delhi that when we form the government in the MCD, we will rid it of corruption. ‘MCD ko bilkul bhrashtachar mukt karenge’, no trader or vendor will have to pay any bribes. You don’t have to go to any office and engage any middlemen. All your work will be done online. Just as we eliminated corruption in the Delhi government, we will eliminate corruption in the MCD also. I don’t think it will take more than four to five months in doing this.

Your opponents ask how people should believe your anti-corruption plank since there is an alleged scam in the liquor policy and one minister is still in jail. Has your image not been sullied?

Every day, they bring forth some arbitrary charge. I say that I am ‘kattar imaandar’. Now, no other politician in the country has the courage to say that in Indian politics. Every day, they fling mud on me (‘roz mere upar kichad phenkte hain’). They are saying that I am like them, they are saying that yes, we are corrupt, and he is also like us. They have not been able to prove a single charge in any case so far.

In the case of Manish Sisodia, they claimed that he had indulged in corruption worth Rs 10,000 crore. They raided his house but could not find any money that is unaccounted for. They said he is the kingpin, the don and what not. Yet, the chargesheet does not even have his name. That means the entire case was false. They have filed 167 cases against our MLAs and ministers of which there have been acquittals in 35 cases. The country will not move forward by filing false cases and troubling people.

One big promise you have made ahead of MCD elections is empowering RWAs. You said they will be treated as ‘mini parshad’ and you will empower them politically and financially. But there is a big hurdle. You have to get the approval of the Lieutenant Governor, like it happened with Mohalla Sabhas.

No, it is not needed in MCD. In some cases, the Delhi government needs the approval of the Lieutenant Governor but that is not the case with the MCD. No file of the MCD will go to the Lieutenant Governor. I don’t see any hurdles coming from the Lieutenant Governor when it comes to the MCD. And, even if there will be any, just as we have got the work of the Delhi government done, got files approved by the Lieutenant Governor, we will do the same when it comes to MCD.

People are concerned about the constant tussle between the elected government and the Lieutenant Governor’s office. In the past six months, we have seen a spate of allegations from the Lieutenant Governor’s office. This has affected the work and functioning of the government of Delhi. In such a situation, it is the citizen who suffers. Why should the citizen then vote for AAP?

See, ever since we formed the government in Delhi, the Centre and the BJP, through the office of the L-G, have tried to stall our work. They delayed the files related to Mohalla Clinics by two years, they stalled the files related to CCTV cameras by two-and-a-half years but we got that approved. Now, they have given orders to stop yoga classes but I have ensured that yoga classes continue. So, I will get all the work done. They have always tried to stall our work.

The present BJP government at the Centre is fighting with everybody. Not just us, it is also fighting with the judiciary. Just recall the nasty statements given by the law minister against the judiciary. They are fighting with farmers. When I was in Gujarat, traders spoke of abusive language used by these people. Traders say despite substantial donations to BJP, the party’s ‘chhota sa karyakarta’ calls them up and abuses them if they approach for some work. BJP fights with all parties and institutions. The country will not progress this way.

Where does the citizen go?

Exactly. In Delhi, we have provided protection to people against their ‘goondagardi’ to some extent. The manner in which they are trying to stall the work of the government and creating hurdles in every matter leads to delay. Take for instance the Mohalla Clinics. The L-G sat on the file for two years but I got that work done. They stalled the file on CCTV cameras. You may remember that I, along with Manish-Ji and Gopal-Ji, staged a dharna at the L-G’s residence and got the work done. They stalled yoga classes. However, with donations from people, I ensured that yoga classes continue. I am getting all the work done. In a way, we have given a protective cover to the people of Delhi.

However, you are right. If they keep troubling people like this, trap them in false cases, file false cases, bring out fake videos then when are they going to run the country, when will they actually work? Why don’t you carry everyone along?

They stream abuses on me incessantly. I ask for an opportunity in the MCD so that I can clean Delhi, they answer by saying they will break Kejriwal’s leg. I ask for an opportunity in the MCD so that I can remove corruption, and they answer by saying that they will gouge out Kejriwal’s eyes. If they do that, will any solution emerge? Will Delhi become clean? I am giving an account of my work to the people. Why don’t they also do the same? Why are you not giving an account of your work?

Seven BJP chief ministers are campaigning in Delhi. Yogi Adityanath is campaigning for MCD elections in Delhi. Jairam Thakur is campaigning, Khattar Saab is campaigning, Shivraj Singh Chauhan is campaigning, Himanta Biswa Sarma — a staggering 17 Union ministers are involved. Amit Shah, JP Nadda, Hardeep Puri; all central ministers are campaigning in Delhi. The people are asking them just one question — why should we vote for you? I was watching Amit Shah-ji or Nadda were campaigning door-to-door and people were asking about one work they had done. They are unable to give an account. Had they actually done any work in the past 15 years, they would not have needed a campaign by so many of their leaders. We have performed and so we don’t feel the need to call any minister from Punjab. The people are giving an account of our work.

The BJP says it has done some work. They have built parking lots in some places. The prime minister himself has given EWS houses to people. In fact, giving houses to people who dwell in slums is one of their major planks. Do you think there is a threat from the BJP for AAP, especially when it comes to promises like these?

They have given 3,000-4,000 houses now. Construction for the same had been going on for the past 15 years. Just before an election, they come and indulge in some drama (nautanki). In the 2020 elections, I remember the prime minister and Hardeep Puri-ji had claimed that all colonies in Delhi have been regularised, and registration for the same would begin from the next day. Today, Puri-ji held a press conference and said we will regularise the unauthorised colonies in Delhi. What drama is this? In 2020 elections, you brought a notification and claimed that it was done. Today you are saying you will do it. Do they think that people are fools? Until now, there hasn’t been a single registration in an unauthorised colony. Every time, ahead of elections, they come, make false promises and disappear. This is why people don’t have faith in them (BJP). People know they are lying.

Your minister Satyendar Jain continues to be in jail even though so many controversial videos have come out of prison. How do you defend that?

BJP has filed 167 false cases against our ministers and MLAs. As I always say, I am ‘kattar imandaar’. Our food minister was found to be involved in some corruption in the 2015 government. Neither the media nor the opposition was aware of this. I removed him and handed his case to the CBI. Recently, our health minister in Punjab was found to be indulging in corruption. We sent him to jail. If I find anyone indulging in corruption, even if it is my own son, I will not spare that person. But if they keep filing false cases against my ministers and MLAs, will I keep removing them? The only way is to fight back.

What is the road ahead? In MCD elections and nationally?

‘Hum desh ko vikalp ki rajneeti dena chahtein hain’ (we want to offer alternative politics to the country). When we went to Punjab, we ran a positive campaign. In Delhi also, we ran a positive campaign. When I go to Gujarat, I tell people that I will build schools for your children, I will build hospitals for your families. People can’t believe that in politics, one can have such discourse.

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