From a software engineer to a politician, Aam Aadmi Party's Munger candidate Sandeep Kumar says the biggest hurdle in cleaning up politics is the presence of criminal elements. The 28-year-old, who worked in Tata Consultancy Services and then went on to start a company in Delhi, jumped into politics from his home state of Bihar with the aim of providing a clean and corruption free alternative to the voters.
Speaking to IBNLive, Sandeep claimed that the AAP is not a rich party but what it lacks in terms of money power, it makes up with sheer enthusiasm and the will power of its activists. While admitting that caste is a very important factor in Bihar politics, he also added that people were now looking at a candidate and party first and caste has been relegated to the background.
He also lambasted Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's claims of "susanshan" (good governance) and pointed out that even the Janata Dal United had put up candidates with criminal charges against their name. He is facing sitting JDU MP Rajeev Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh, Lok Janshakti Party's Veena Devi, who is the wife of murder convict Suraj Bhan Singh, and Rashtriya Janata Dal's Pragati Mehta.
Below is the full transcript of the interview:
IBNLive: Sandeep you are contesting from Munger where you will face two strongmen. JDU has nominated Rajiv Ranjan Singh and LJP has pitched Surajbhan Singh's wife Veena Devi. How will you tackle the money and muscle power they have at their disposal?
Sandeep Kumar: Yes, you rightly said that they have money and muscle power. I have confidence on the people and their decision, the people always make the right decision; wrong decisions are made by parties. I have been campaigning here for three months now and as we always say the man who has criminal charges against him will end up doing corruption. We are making people aware of it. And yes they (oppositions) are doing their best, using money and muscle but we have courage to face them. All my volunteers are active and our motto is to rout these criminals and rangdars from the society.
IBNLive: Your party has also filed complaint with Election Commission in regard of rival candidates threatening voters in Munger. Has state administration taken any step or are you facing a bias?
Sandeep Kumar: See, there is a strong bond in bureaucracy and politicians to commit corruption. I don't expect them acting on our complaint. The action will be taken by the people who in turn will wipe out the corrupt.
IBNLive: Sandeep, what is your main agenda in Munger? Is it corruption, criminalisation of politics or development of the area?
Sandeep Kumar: Yes, criminalization of politics is main point we are focusing on. If you talk to people, Munger is known as the crime capital of Bihar. Areas like Barh, Baraiha, Munger etc have several prominent criminal faces. In places like Munger there are three kind of government - one is the administrative machinery, second is chotte sarkar (the MLA) and then bade sarkar (MP). Now people want change and they are looking towards me and Aam Aadmi Party for that change.
IBNLive: Caste plays in major role in politics of Bihar. A large number of voters are influenced by caste factors. Parties always make sure their caste calculations work well. So how is AAP going to face it?
Sandeep Kumar: The caste factor is prevalent in voters aged over 40 years, bellow 40 years these is no caste factors. They are following Arvind Kejriwal or Narendra Modi regardless of caste lines. Youth is against corruption and needs change. All the caste calculations will be useless this time. Corruption and development are main agenda in this election.
IBNLive: JDU and Nitish have been claiming that over last eight years they have undertaken various development activities. How do you see this, is it a reality or just a hype created?
Sandeep Kumar: There has been growth and development but when he talks about susashan - the good governance - that is hype. In a recent rally Nitish was seen greeting Lallan Singh on stage, what was the message. The CM going to chotte sarkar who should not even be a part of the society.
IBNLive: Nitish has always claimed to be a clean politician. How do you and AAP counters this clean image of JDU leader?
Sandeep Kumar: Yes, Nitish Kumar is very practical when it comes to clean image. But people do see that Nitish is also a part of the conspiracy. Although he is practical but people are ultimately the judge.
IBNLive: So who do you see as your main challenger, JDU, BJP or RJD?
Sandeep Kumar: See let me tell you very frankly, JDU's Lallan Singh is facing high anti-incumbency, Modi could have been serious contest but since BJP is not contesting from here and the LJP candidate has no ground and has criminal links. Others are not at all contesting to win. People do crowd around them but just to extract money. It's well said in Munger "Khao piyeo noch ke... Vote karo soch ke." So people will think before voting.
IBNLive: BJP talks about 'Modi wave', do you find any such wave in Munger or the areas where you have campaigned in?
Sandeep Kumar: Yes, there was a 'Modi wave' three months back. There were villages where I face resistance and was not even allowed to enter. But now things have changed. People from those villages have joined me. I get a warm welcome when I visit those areas now.
IBNLive: Sandeep, you have a background in engineering and you worked with a reputed company. Why did you leave that and joined politics, what is your main motive behind this step?
Sandeep Kumar: I was always inclined toward the society, but say it family pressure or mindset of the society I was forced to take up a job. When you are sent to good schools and college people expect you to get a good job. But my inner consciousness was always inclined toward involvement in the society. I resisted political activities to avoid the tainted persona of politicians but AAP gave a good platform. I have been associated with the andolan and eventually it happened.
IBNLive: Thanks Sandeep for speaking to us.