Was Sheila Dikshit's Blue-eyed Boy. Ask Her Son What Happened: Maken
At a time when municipal polls in Delhi were being seen as a fight between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Delhi Congress chief and former minister Ajay Maken captured everyone’s attention with the expose on Shunglu Committee report, which accuses Arvind Kejriwal government of serious irregularities.
File Image of Congress Delhi Chief Ajay Maken (PTI Photo)
At a time when municipal polls in Delhi were being seen as a fight between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Delhi Congress chief and former minister Ajay Maken captured everyone’s attention with the expose on Shunglu Committee report, which accuses Arvind Kejriwal government of serious irregularities. While Maken was trying to build a campaign on the ground, some of his party colleagues started demanding his resignation. Most surprisingly, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, under whom Maken rose from a city politician to a national leader, was seen as supporting the rebels. Speaking to News 18’s Eram Agha, Maken says Congress remains to be a serious contender in the race. Edited excerpts:
Why do you see Congress as a serious contender in the municipal elections?
Most important thing is that Congress has been out of power since last three years and people have seen Arvind Kejriwal’s governance in Delhi. They have seen the Shunglu Committee report in which serious corruption and nepotism charges have been levelled against Kejriwal government. People have seen how four of his six ministers have been caught red-handed in corruption cases. There is a complete paralysis of governance in Delhi.
Please explain why you say that MCD polls are a referendum on Kejriwal government.
I can give you details of each and every Delhi government department. I can tell you how things have gone down. If you look at public transport, not a single bus has been added to the existing fleet of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC). This should be seen in contrast to what the Congress government did in 2013 – we had 5,445 buses. Instead of going up, the number of buses has come down to 4,100. In case of Delhi Metro, a lot of work should have been done by now. The third phase of Delhi Metro should have been completed by September 2016. Only 22-kilometre Metro line has been completed so far (Phase III target is 160 km). Metro work is running late by two years. It is only because of tu-tu-main-main (bickering) between the state and the central government. It had not happened earlier.
If you look at education, 98,000 students have shifted to private schools from Delhi government schools in the last two years. So everything as far as governance is concerned — air pollution, education, or health — the government has not done well.
Look at the number of dengue deaths. There were 405 deaths in 2015 due to dengue fever. Never in the past has the MCD or Delhi government been so underprepared. The Aam Aadmi Party has failed miserably. Where is the Lokpal? The party came to power on the issue of Lokpal… but where is it now?
As far as the municipal corporation is concerned, BJP president himself said that MCD is corrupt and that is why they are denying tickets to all the sitting councillors in these elections. They have admitted the failure of the municipal corporations under the BJP. Does BJP even have the moral right to contest the MCD polls?
These elections are very important for Congress after the repeated defeats since 2014 Lok Sabha polls. As DPCC chief, is your personal reputation at stake?
Personally, it is very important because it is the first big election, or rather the second one if you consider the municipal by-elections for 13 seats, since I became the president of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee.
It came as a surprise to many when you demanded voting on ballot papers instead of electronic voting machines (EVMs) after the Uttar Pradesh verdict. What are your apprehensions on EVMs?
Without going into the previous instances, including the 2015 Delhi polls, which made many people wonder ‘how could AAP win 67 out of 70 seats’, or ‘how did BJP get these many seats in Uttar Pradesh’, my point is — whenever a question is raised in the democratic process, it should be answered.
That is why I had written to the election commissioner saying that these municipal elections should be held on ballot papers. Doubt in democratic processes should be cleared. But now, we are prepared to conduct polls through EVM, hoping that nothing wrong happens.
Some senior leaders in Delhi Congress have demanded your resignation from DPCC. Does this worry you, particularly when it is happening weeks before MCD polls?
Well, never in the history of Congress has there been a leader who didn’t face infighting. This is something even former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit faced. When she was president of the party in Delhi, some people wanted her to step down. Even when she was the CM, some demanded her resignation. I am talking about 1999 and the earlier years. At that time also many people were against Sheila ji. But when she came to power, she governed for 15 years. She has been my mentor. n learnt a lot from her. I was her blue-eyed boy once.
If you were Sheila Dikshit’s ‘blue-eyed boy’, what has happened now?
Well, ask Sandeep Dikshit (Sheila Dikshit’s son who is also a politician).
Has the BJP won over the purvanchali votes by making Manoj Tiwari the president of its Delhi unit?
We have given more tickets to purvancahlis than any other party. At the lowest level, Congress is the protector of unauthorised colonies. People have not forgotten what Jagmohan did as the Urban Development Minister — BJP had refused to regularise unauthorised colonies. People have not forgotten the days when 80,000 slums were razed in a span of three months just because they didn’t vote for the BJP in 2003 Assembly elections. Urban poor know that BJP is not their party. Bringing a face would not do enough. It is only Congress for them.
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