MCD Not Perfect, But has Saved Delhi From AAP: Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari
With less than a month left for the all-crucial Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections, a battle for the heart of Delhi, the three major parties are busy chalking out their strategies.
A file image of Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tewari. (CNN-News18)
New Delhi: With less than a month left for the all-crucial Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections, a battle for the heart of Delhi, the three major parties are busy chalking out their strategies. Charged after landslide victories in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, the BJP is hoping to ride the momentum to win the polls for the third consecutive time. News 18’s Uday Singh Rana caught up with Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, the man in-charge of scripting the saffron party’s comeback, in a discussion on the upcoming civic polls.
Would you say you’re confident going into the MCD polls?
I would say I am confident but not over-confident. We have started touching the lives of people from all sections of society, especially people from poor backgrounds. That has led to the people’s faith in us and we have faith in our work. People have a lot of hope from BJP and they want to give us full control of Delhi. For the last ten years, it has been the misfortune of the MCD that other parties have been in power in the state government. First Congress was in power and then it was Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). If you ask me, the MCD has been a victim of politics by Congress and AAP.
Since your elevation to the post of BJP state president, this is the first major election in Delhi. What is at stake for you and your party? You were reduced to a bad position in the 2015 elections. Will you recover?
The BJP has never been in a bad position. The other party (AAP) rode to power on false promises. Today, the people of Delhi feel cheated. You will see the result of that in this election.
The 2016 bypolls did not bring good news for you. You were reduced to third position after polling was held in 13 wards. Should that be seen as an indication of how things will go in 2017?
We need to remember something about last year’s bypolls. While the BJP did not manage to win most of the seats, we got the highest vote share of all the parties that contested the polls. There are many reasons why we could not convert the vote share into seats. However, the important thing is that the AAP, which had 44% vote share and 67 seats in 2015, had a much lower vote share than ours.
Delhi has faced a sever sanitation crisis recently. Over the last two years, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) has gone on strike five times. Arvind Kejriwal has said they have given you more money than ever before. How do you battle this anti-MCD sentiment?
Let me just inform everybody that the MCD is owed Rs 9,000 Crore by the Delhi government. Arvind Kejriwal should tell us why that money has not been paid to us yet. There are many roads in Delhi that are the responsibility of the Delhi government. If those roads are unclean, it is not the MCD’s fault. I am not saying that MCD has done the best work. I am not saying MCD is perfect, but it is far better than Delhi government. MCD has been saving Delhi while AAP has been ruining it. We have built stadiums, parks and 40 new schools all over Delhi.
Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken contends that the turf wars between AAP and BJP have stalled governance in Delhi. Congress claims that you are playing a fixed-match of sorts at the expense of the people of Delhi.
Ajay Maken has a lot of tough questions to answer. His party ruled Delhi for 15 years. Have unauthorized colonies been regularized? Why did the water-tanker mafia come up in Delhi? All of Delhi’s problems are created by the Congress and perpetuated by AAP. They say we are playing a fixed-match with AAP but who formed government with them in 2013? Maken Ji should think about all these questions.
You recently made a shocking announcement that none of the sitting councilors would get tickets this time. Is this an admission of anti-incumbency?
No, it is not fair to say we have admitted anything of the sort. These people (sitting councilors) have been working with us and for the people of Delhi for 10 years. They have done a good job. This year, we have taken a decision. There is a new rule that we wanted to bring out fresh faces. Many of those councilors have been given important positions in the party organization.
If this leads to infighting over ticket distribution, won’t it jeopardize the party’s chances?
It won’t lead to infighting. These are people who believe in the values of the BJP and the party has shown faith in them. If it hadn’t, they wouldn’t have gotten important posts in the party organization. They will now stand with the new faces and guide them. BJP leaders don’t haggle for power. Our aim is to work for Delhi and win power in both MCD and government.
So have you already started preparing for the 2020 assembly polls?
Absolutely, you can say that. The AAP wants to do politics at the expense of the people. For example, they stop the MCD’s funds; they stop us from doing work. We have to start planning from now on.
The AAP announced its candidates weeks ago, giving them a head start. They have already started going from door-to-door. You have not yet announced candidates. Are you giving your candidates enough time to campaign?
Announcing candidates earlier won’t change the nature of their leadership. They have fake degree holders, rapists and Hawala traders. As far as we are concerned, it is taking time because we have received over 33,000 applications for 272 wards. It takes time to sift through so many applications. Besides, we don’t want any confusion. Our list will be final. AAP, on the other hand, has changed their candidates multiple times.
Arvind Kejriwal had recently raised questions on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) after the Punjab verdict and you had attacked him. However, he never demanded that the verdict be overturned or elections held again. He simply asked that the paper trail be tallied with the EVM votes. Is that so unfair?
When a storm is coming, how does an ostrich react? It buries its head in the sand. Arvind Ji suffered a huge loss in Punjab and Goa, so I can understand why he is upset. He has to come up with some explanation for his loss, so he is inventing tales.
Recently, a video of you allegedly misbehaving with a school teacher had gone viral. Why didn’t you simply apologize to the teacher so the matter could end there?
The matter had ended there itself. I had pointed out something wrong that she had done, she realized it and apologized. That was the end of it. The AAP used a selective video clip and circulated it on social media. I never took any action against her. I am the sort of person who admits his mistake instantly.
There are 272 wards in Delhi and three civic bodies. What is your prediction? How many seats will you win?
I have only one promise to make to my party. Ab ki baar, 220 paar (This time, we will cross 220). I ask the people to give Delhi to BJP and we will make it beautiful.
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