Can't keep questioning PM for decisive actions: Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir. DH Photo
Highlights: 
26/11 was great opportunity but they missed the bus: Gambhir
Gambhir says we need a decisive leader and Modi is one
Gambhir on AAP: The party has nothing to offer, they just level allegations

9,392 runs in 14, 211 balls – Gautam Gambhir faced top class bowlers on one-day internationals and Tests across the cricketing world in his 13 years international career. The 37-year-old left-handed batsmen, who retired from international cricket in 2016, has now entered a new pitch – fighting elections – in world's second largest democracy. Like he manoeuvred cricket pitches of variety, Gambhir is slowly coming to terms with the bounce of political pitch. He joined BJP on March 22 and exactly a month later, the party announced his candidature for East Delhi though initially he was speculated to fight from East Delhi. He says he joined BJP because of a decisive Narendra Modi and that the previous government lost the golden opportunity to take action after 26/11. He dares AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal for a debate on his promises. Gambhir spoke to DH's Shemin Joy on his election and his campaign.

You are a cricketer. Politics is a different pitch. When did you decide to take a plunge into politics?

I was thinking about it for some time. I started thinking about what do I want to do. Should I just keep tweeting about on every issue that happens in this country or go to the ground and try and do something to change the lives of people? That was the day I decided to take that plunge in politics. I don't want to become a Twitter sensation. I wanted to do something and change the lives of people. I had only two options. One is stop tweeting or go to the ground and do something for the country and people of Delhi. I wanted everyone in my family to be on the same page and so I discussed with my family and obviously, they agreed. They thought I can make a change.

Why BJP?

The country is at crossroads and it needs a strong leader. We need a decisive leader. Prime Minister Modi has given us this for the past five years. That is one reason. Another is the way India developed under the Modi government. He wants India to be a superpower.

You joined politics very recently and became a candidate very soon. There will obviously be some ground-level leaders who would not be happy with the decision to field you. How do you respond to such a situation?

It is the party's decision. I had never asked for a ticket. I just wanted to join the party. At the press conference in BJP headquarters after my joining, I just said that it is for the party to decide whether I should contest or not. I joined the party because I was influenced by what the Prime Minister has done in the past five years, the kind of vision he has shown the country and the kind of leadership he has shown after the Uri terror strike and Pulwama attack.

What is your campaign strategy?

I have got into politics with a clean heart and clean intentions. We will only talk about development and try and make promises which are achievable. We will not play with the emotions of people unlike Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party AAP. We will try to be very very specific.

In your campaign, one of the prominent themes is Pakistan and nationalism. Why is that?

Nationalism and national security are an issue. There is nothing wrong with raising it. Our Prime Minister has done what a lot of governments could not do. They had the opportunity to do it whether it was 26/11 or before. If a Prime Minister has taken strong decisions, why not credit him? Why not give him that recognition? 26/11 was a great opportunity where you could have come out and take strong decisions. You couldn't. You missed the bus. Now because our Prime Minister is taking decisions, you can't keep questioning the armed forces. You can't keep questioning him as well. You should actually appreciate what is happening, whether it was the designation of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist or anything else. All these decisions should be appreciated.

Your AAP rival Atishi dared you for debate but you said you will debate with Kejriwal only. Why?

First of all, in the last four and a half years, there were only debates in Delhi. It was either dharnas or debates. I have thrown the ball in Kejriwal's court. If he wants to accept it, then accept it. He is the head of the party and government. What is wrong in debating with me? He betrayed the people of Delhi in the last four and a half years. He is the one who should be responsible for whatever has happened in Delhi. He has to come out in open and debate.

AAP has filed a criminal complaint claiming you are enrolled as a voter in two Assembly constituencies. There are complaints against you in Election Commission also. How do you respond to these allegations?

That is in front of the Election Commission. It will decide. I have only one voter ID. I have voted from Rajender Nagar only. Rest you get the answer from the EC. If you stoop down to the level that someone who is just five-six days old in politics and you (AAP) want to try and cancel his nomination, you want to try and file an FIR against him, it is very petty because you have nothing to offer to people of Delhi. You have no vision. Now you want to hide behind statehood.

BJP is the biggest party in the world. We don't want to stoop down to that level. We have a vision and we want to make East Delhi the best constituency. We are not going to make any false promises. We are not going to say that we are going to make Delhi to Paris or London. In the next two-three months after elections, you will hear Kejriwal saying that he wants to make Delhi like New York. We don't want to do that. We want to make Delhi like Delhi where people can drink clean water and there could be much better infrastructure. So when you have nothing to give, you end up levelling allegations.

AAP and Congress were in talks to form an alliance. Would such an alliance have a detrimental effect on you?

The 'Gadbhandan' (coalition) is only for capturing power. That is not for delivering anything. Those who came to power on an anti-corruption plank are seen at the feet of the corrupt for stitching a coalition. People are not fools.

What are you offering your voters?

The basic need for Delhi is improving air quality and providing clean water. Parking is also a huge issue. We want to make multi-level parking lots. Then we need to get a campus of Delhi University in East Delhi. We want to convert Yamuna Sports Complex to a world-class stadium. At present, we have Ferozeshah Kotla stadium. Just imagine, a constituency having two world-class stadia.

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