The BJP Delhi chief discusses the party’s strategy in the upcoming municipality elections, how the party plans to hold AAP accountable for its unmet election promises and more.
New Delhi: Popular Bhojpuri singer and BJP MP Manoj Tiwari was recently appointed as the party’s new Delhi-unit chief. The party’s agenda is to now launch a sharper attack on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government with which it has been at loggerheads for a while. The BJP is also looking to garner the support of the growing Purvanchal community, particularly keeping in mind the municipal body elections that are scheduled for 2017.
Although the BJP controls the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), in the by-polls held in May for 13 MCD seats, the AAP bagged five, the Congress took four and the BJP won three seats.
In an interview with The Wire, Tiwari, an MP from Delhi’s Northeast constituency, said he will soon embark on a campaign in all the 70 assembly segments of Delhi “to expose the AAP government.”
Excerpts from the interview follow. The interview has been edited for clarity.
As the new BJP chief of Delhi and as a part of the main opposition party, have you readied any specific plan of action?
It is difficult to explain the entire thinking process and action that is to be taken in just one sentence. My agenda is simple, expose the false claims being made by the AAP government. We are going to run a door-to-door campaign to expose AAP’s failure in keeping the election promises made to the people in all the 70 constituencies.
It is not enough to make a video of the chief minister (Arvind Kejriwal) and make many claims. If any misinformation is spread, one gets exposed. For instance, Kejriwal promised to provide homes to the homeless but no action has been taken on this count yet. I have raised the question, Begharo ko ghar kab? (When shall the homeless get a home?), and shall continue asking it until the government acts on it.
I visited a Dalit colony in the Karol Bagh area [on December 4] to assess the situation on the ground. I began by sharing a meal with a Dalit family and the people of the colony appreciated it. An old lady who lives in the colony approached me with her piggy bank and said that its money was for the prime minister’s relief fund. She is an admirer of Narendra Modiji and wants him to do something to overthrow the AAP government in Delhi. That piggy bank is a token of trust for me.
I know that being an opposition party doesn’t mean just opposing everything [that is implemented by the ruling party]. I will also make sure that the mohalla clinics of the government are being implemented properly.
Will you elaborate a bit more on the campaign you said your party will soon undertake?
My first step is having a dialogue with all the communities. With that in mind, I first met people from the Dalit community and asked them about the problems they face. They are not happy with the AAP government and are seeking a change.
The municipal elections in Delhi are approaching. Is the campaign specifically aimed towards it?
My one-point agenda is having a dialogue with Delhiites. The people have chosen a government to work for them but the way the present chief minister is behaving, it looks like he has no interest in the state’s critical issues. He is more interested in visiting Punjab, Goa and Varanasi.
What are these critical issues? What does the BJP envisage for the people of Delhi?
There are many critical issues that are related to the lives of the people living in the city. Why should every issue be political, a rhetoric? For instance, the rising pollution level in the city. You don’t find a serious debate on it. We want to see a pollution-free Delhi, a city free of traffic jams, a clean and green Delhi.
On December 4 you had a spat with Arvind Kejriwal on Twitter about the statehood issue of Delhi. Can you talk about that?
You must have read my reply to him. I told him to listen to my full statement [on the subject in the video he referred to] before reacting to it. My counter to his allegation met a huge response on social media; it unmasked him and the misinformation he tried to spread. (According to media reports, Tiwari later said, “The issue of statehood for Delhi was mentioned in our election manifesto. We support statehood, but one should also keep in mind that Delhi is not just the capital of any state, but the entire nation. Therefore, the limits of statehood, especially in light of Kejriwal’s protest in Delhi ahead of the Republic Day celebrations in 2014, must be determined.”)
Since the Centre’s demonetisation move, many in Delhi, like elsewhere, have been standing in long queues to withdraw cash. Did you face any complaints during your interaction with people at the Dalit colony you visited?
I know that some people have been facing a problem due to it [demonetisation]. Still, they are maintaining calm. I thank them for their patience. People will certainly see good results from this move after December 30.
Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee have come across as the two most vocal critics of demonetisation. Do you think that Congress as the main opposition in the country is gradually being replaced by the regional parties?
Yes, these parties have already encroached upon that space and Congress isn’t even taking any corrective measures to stall it. Every day, we have been witnessing baseless arguments and allegations in parliament from the party.