A reputed ENT surgeon by profession, the Delhi BJP president Dr Harsh Vardhan took over the reigns of BJP in December 2003 after the party had faced defeat in assembly elections a second time. The cadre was demoralised and confused. But through his continuous fight, taking all the party workers with him, he not only infused a sense of vigour in the cadre but also made the party so strong that it snatched power from Congress in MCD and then in Cantonment Board in 2006-07. Now when assembly elections are round the corner the party is fully prepared to snatch power from the Congress in assembly also. Organiser representative Pramod Kumar met him to discuss the BJP'spreparations for assembly elections. Excerpts:
Sheila Dikshit claims ?Delhi is changing?. What do you think?
Recently a TV channel showed a programme and shown what is actually happening in Delhi after ten years? misrule of Congress. The condition of roads, power, water, transport, health, education, JJ clusters, unauthorised colonies or pollution in Yamuna have gone wrong to the extent that people feel so sorry about the city. It is for the people to decide whether Delhi is really changing. But I think there is no need for any proof about what is happening on the ground. It can be felt, it can be seen, it can be observed and it can be proved beyond any doubt.
Power, water and transport have been the permanent problems of Delhi and no party has basically solved them to the full satisfaction of people? What can you commit to people on these fronts?
No government and no Chief Minister in Delhi, since Independence, had ten years of rule. Sheila Dikshit ruled for ten years. Even while BJP was in power in Delhi it had three Chief Ministers in five years. But you compare this ten year'speriod with five years of any state government. I would like to cite the example of Gujarat government where under Narendra Modi'srule the growth rate of the state became better than that of the whole country. It goes to prove that if there is a will there is always a way. And if there is a vision you can always solve the problems of the big states like Gujarat also. Now after ten years we hear from Sheila Dikishit that power will be surplus in 2010, Delhiites will get adequate amount of water in 2011 and JJ cluster-dwellers will get houses in next three-four years.
We can only say that we will work with full sincerity, honesty and dedication and will try to get rid of corruption from the system. We will try to make it a city of opportunities for everyone and will ensure that people have easy access to what they deserve.
Most of the industries have been removed from Delhi. How will you make it a city of opportunities?
Whatever has been done in terms of shifting industries from Delhi by the order of the court there is a need to give them adequate facilities at the place where they were shifted. But after ten years, we find that the industries, which were relocated, are still struggling hard to get even the basic amenities of power, roads, water, transportation, etc. The Congress government has done nothing but to give them lip sympathy and that too at the time of election only. Every problem has its humanitarian angle and we always feel that rules are made for people, people are not made for rules. We have to be very practical.
BJP opposed privatisation of power. Will you review the contract of private companies if come to power?
Reviewing the contract and the conditions in totality will certainly be our priority. We will do it in an objective manner. We will certainly ensure that our commitment is for the people first then for anyone else. For the last ten years Sheila Dikshit shed tears only for the power companies and not for the common people of Delhi.
There has been a move to privatise water supply also?
The CM initiated it on March 16, 2004. From that very date the BJP organised lot of agitations against it. We involved all the RWAs and people with us. At the end, Smt. Dikshit had to ultimately postpone the idea but she did not discard it entirely. Despite so much vehement protest she gave Sonia Vihar plant to one of the world'smost corrupt and controversial companies, Degremont. This company has been thrown out of its own parent country, France, and also from so many other countries. Under no circumstances shall we allow it.
Public transport system in Delhi has totally collapsed. What will you promise to the people on this front?
There is a need to review the whole transport system. Shri Ajay Makan as Transport Minister, had committed on the floor of the assembly to bring a transport policy in Delhi, but still there is no such policy at all. The government has been converted into a money-making machine. Till they get money from the killer blueline buses they will continue to ply on the roads. The BRT corridor proved to be a death corridor and has given more congestion on the roads. All the experts including the media opposed it. But the Congress government promoted it, only because they had to purchase a few thousands of low floor buses, in which they tried to divert a few lakh rupees into their party fund or into their personal pockets. In spite of so much anger and death of so many people the CM has not shown an iota of anger against the blueline buses. She on the contrary is teaching how they should cross the roads and stand on the bus stand.
Government is claiming to regularise the unauthorised colonies. Can it really do it now?
They have tried to befool the people. What is the meaning of provisional certificate? After ten years, people are living in the shabby conditions where there is no road, no drain, no school, no dispensary, no electric poll, no sewer and no water. The government has no business of giving such certificates because the whole issue is pending in the Supreme Court. The court has already asked them how they will provide these colonies water, sewer and power but they have not filed any affidavit in the court. The court gave permission of some basic development in anauthorised colonies in 1998 when the late Dr Sahib Singh Verma was the Chief Minister and he personally appeared in the court. I just want to ask Smt. Dikshit as to what stopped her from initiating that process of development in these colonies in the last ten years.
The government is also claiming to give four lakh flats to poor people under Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojna. What do you say?
Let Smt. Dikshit show me one flat given to one jhuggi dweller in last ten years. If she has not been able to give ten flats in last ten years, does she have any moral right to promise lakhs of houses to the innocent people in the next few years? Some 5000 flats are being constructed and that too is not very sure, but they have sold lakhs of forms to the poor people. Is this not a mockery of the whole system?
The Congress is promising multi-story flats for jhuggi-dwellers at the spot where they are living today. Do you support it?
We support any proposal, which helps the poor people. Those who live in jhuggi-clusters need the best possible attention of the government. Technically, if the construction of such flats is possible we support it. But it should not be only a slogan.
What will be the major issues in this election?
The major issue will be the failure of Smt Dikshit at all fronts during the last ten years whether it is power, water, health, education, transport, environment, Yamuna pollution, JJ clusters, development of unauthorised colonies, sealing, demolition and above all inflation. The way she insulted people by her arrogant behaviour will also be an issue. She insulted people coming from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh saying they are burden on the city. When we agitated against the price hike on power front, she said people would have to pay the inflated bills if they use electricity. She withheld the file of Afzal Guru for two years. This is what the Union Home Minister said in an interview to India Today. We also got this information through RTI. She has not been able to remove even one Bangladeshi infiltrator from the city in spite of a court order to deport at least 100 Bangladeshis every month. Now she is trying to treat them as a guest and is issuing ration cards and identity cards also. The way the central government behaved with nationalists in Jammu and honoured those who burnt the tri-colour in Kashmir, its questioning the existence of Lord Rama and its attempt to demolish Ram Sethu will also be the issues.
The outcome of DUSU elections is not in much your favour?
DUSU election has nothing to do with the assembly elections. The ABVP lost it in 2006 and 2007 but we won the MCD and Cantonment Board elections. The present outcome of the DUSU election has further confirmed the changing mood of the countrymen?the Congress is going and the BJP is coming.
Will the party declare the name of Chief Minister candidate in advance?
This you will have to ask the national president Shri Rajnath Singh.
Will there be an alliance with Akali Dal or any other NDA partner?
Akalis have always been our partner in Delhi. I don'tsee any reason why we should not have an alliance with them this time also.
What about the performance of BSP?
It got 9.36 per cent votes in 2003 elections. In the MCD elections also it got just 9.86 per cent votes. It was an increase of about .6 per cent. Technically whatever losses they have inflicted is to the Congress itself. We don'tmind the BSP or any other party coming into the fray.
The issue of full statehood to Delhi is still pending?
Our stand on this issue is very clear. In the last 50 years we got the chance to be in power at the Centre only at once. At that time too Advaniji brought a bill to this effect in the Parliament. But it was opposed by the supporters of Smt. Sonia Gandhi and others. The bill at that time had to be referred to a Committee headed by Shri Pranab Mukherjee, which did not give its report till the time of 2004 elections. We have been very sincere on this issue. It is up to the Chief Minister and the Congress who have to give an explanation to the people of Delhi. Smt Dikshit used to protest in 2002 when NDA was in power. But during the last four years she has never thought of protesting against the UPA government on this issue. They have now Congress governments both at the state and the centre, then what prevents them from doing it.