Interview with Brijesh Goyal, a founder of the party now contesting on New Delhi seat
Brijesh Goyal, one of the founders of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and convenor of its trade and industry wing in Delhi state, is contesting Lok Sabha elections from the prestigious New Delhi constituency. He spoke to Deexa Khanduri about the party’s prospects in the general polls.
Why did the AAP approach the Congress for an alliance to fight Lok Sabha elections?
Yes, we made an offer to the Congress party to fight in alliance with us in Delhi. But the party is full of arrogance, and refused the offer. When the whole country wants to defeat the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and many parties are also joining hands in other states, we also decided to offer the same to the Congress party in Delhi and consolidate the votes.
Back in 2013 and 2014, you fought the election against the Congress saying it is corrupt. Now, why did you want to even join hands with them?
Fighting elections [together] doesn’t mean that we are going to compromise in terms of our party ideology or corruption or in any way. If Arvind Kejriwal-ji feels that a party member has done any corruption, he seeks inquiry against the member, and there is no question of compromising our ideology or supporting Congress ideology in the alliance.
In 2013-14, you slammed Congress and now you are criticizing BJP. Is AAP politics all about merely opposing the government of the day?
That’s not true. In the past four years, our government has done a lot of work: no hike in electricity bills, waiving off water bills, setting up mohalla clinics, improving the working of government schools, old-age pension, abolishing inspector raj, and many more steps, and we want to do more. But, the BJP government [in the centre] has not cooperated with us and abolishes every decision taken by the elected government of Delhi. We are reaching out to the public telling them how the BJP didn’t let an elected government function. We launched our Lok Sabha campaign demanding full statehood to Delhi.
Why do you want full statehood? What about Lutyen’s Delhi – as the security and other aspects of embassies require a central rule? How can seven members of parliament help Delhi to get full statehood status to Delhi?
The Lutyen’s Delhi comes under the New Delhi municipal council (NDMC), which is already under the union government: let NDMC continue to be part of the central government. But why is the central government restricting other parts of Delhi? As MPs we [from AAP] will raise the issue in parliament and help our state government function better. Every parliamentarian has individual rights, power in decision making and roles to perform in his or her constituency – in Delhi, the parliamentarian can question Delhi police and Delhi development authority (DDA), the power which the elected government doesn’t have and that’s how a member of parliament can help Delhi government function smoothly.
In 2014, people of Delhi chose supported BJP in the Lok Sabha polls, and turned to AAP in the assembly elections in early 2015. What would you conclude from it today?
The 2014 Lok Sabha election was our first election, in which we did a few mistakes and in 2019 we’ve learned from it. Arvind-ji went out of Delhi [contesting from Varanasi in 2014], and it was a wrong decision. Even in that scenario, we got 33 percent vote, and BJP got 46 percent vote. During the past four years, our government has done a wonderful job, which got acknowledged worldwide and people are praising us. In the last five years, the Narendra Modi wave has subsided, and our popularity has risen. People will vote for us, and we will win in Delhi.
If AAP is in no position to form the government in the centre, why would anyone vote for you?
This is wrong analysis. States where regional parties are ruling – be it Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal or Jammu and Kashmir – people choose regional party candidates to represent it in parliament and those MPs raise the local issue of the states. Sometimes, the ruling party forms alliance with these regional parties, and sometimes they are voices of opposition. This is how our parliament runs. Two big national parties are not everything.
How do you rank the performance of the sitting Delhi MPs?
Very poor. No parliamentarian has ever raised local issues of Delhi. They did complain about AAP government, but nothing else. They didn’t even raise demand for what they promised to the Delhi citizen in their own election manifesto of 2014.
What about the New Delhi constituency? How are people responding to you?
I have been visiting my area during the past four years regularly, and I meet people, ask them about their problems, and whenever possible I try to help them. Here, Meenakshi Lekhi is the current MP and people say “Meenakshi Lekhi, Kabhi nahi dekhi (we have not seen her)”. Last year, 90 percent of the sealing drive took place in this constituency which includes Hauz Khas, Defence Colony, Amar Colony, Greater Kailash, Paharganj, Patel Nagar, Lajpat Nagar and many other markets. Did anyone hear Meenakshi Lekhi voice opposition against it? Did she file any petition against it? I protested against it outside the prime minister’s residence and raised voice against it in all relevant platforms.