Gautam Gambhir is not serious about elections: Atishi

Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) candidate from East Delhi, Atishi, with Delhi Dy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia shows victory sign. (PTI File Photo)
Highlights: 
Will support any non-BJP govt that promises full statehood to Delhi
Rahul Gandhi, Congress do not want to defeat BJP
AAP capable of defeating BJP in all seats in Delhi

Atishi, a post graduate in history from the University of Oxford, is one of prominent AAP voices and is fighting the Lok Sabha elections from East Delhi constituency. The 38-year-old is credited for the reforms in education sector in Delhi as an advisor to Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister Manish Sisodia.

Atishi believes AAP will sweep this election. Atishi, who takes on Congress' Arvinder Singh Lovely and BJP's Gautam Gambhir, spoke to DH's Shemin Joy.

East Delhi has an interesting contest. How do you see your rivals?

Arvinder Singh Lovely may not even get the requisite votes to save his deposit like all Congress candidates. The less said about him the better. I think we can just show the photograph of schools in East Delhi in 2013 and now when he left as Education Minister. The fight in Delhi is between AAP and BJP. As far as Gautam Gambhir is concerned, unfortunately, it is not a city which votes for celebrities. Delhi is a city where Rajesh Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha and Smriti Irani all contested and lost. It is a city which votes for parties. If there is one party that lies in Delhiites' heart, it is AAP.

You have filed complaints against Gambhir and BJP alleges that you raise it because you have no real issue to raise. What is your response?

What can we do if he doesn't know how to file a nomination and keeping two cards is a ground for disqualification? Doesn't he realise he is going to be disqualified for this? He is not serious about elections. First, he did not know how to fill his nomination. Then it came to light that he has two voter IDs, which is a criminal offence. Sooner or later, he will be disqualified. Then he is holding rallies without Election Commission permission. He says we have no vision but then we told him what AAP has done in East Delhi last four years. Let him now come up with his vision and also provide a report card of what BJP MP Maheish Girri did in East Delhi during his tenure. Unfortunately, this is not a cricket match but an election.

Why was AAP keen on an alliance with Congress?

We wanted an alliance in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh. We were keen on a pan-North India alliance. That is 33 seats on which BJP could have been defeated if we joined hands. As far as Delhi is concerned, we have made it clear that we don't need an alliance only in Delhi. Why? AAP is capable of defeating BJP in all seven seats in Delhi. Vote is an act of faith and people of Delhi has faith in AAP.

Congress counter is that their vote share is increasing -- from around 9.5% in 2015 to around 22% in 2017. How do you respond?

I think Congress should look at their own internal surveys. Why is that no leader in the Congress wanted to contest the election? Isn't it that almost every candidate now is being forced into a contest? Congress is going to repeat is earlier performances and it will end up a distant third.

Why are you so confident that Congress will be third?

Because Congress has a history of being third. If you look at the past four elections, 2013 Assembly elections, 2014 Lok Sabha elections, 2015 Assembly elections, 2017 municipal polls, third place is reserved for Congress. Congress lost their deposit in 2015 in almost all seats. They are going to repeat this performance this time too. No Congress leader wanted to contest elections. Many of their candidates who wanted to contest elections wanted assurances from their leaders that even if they lose this time, they will not be denied a ticket in the Assembly election. They know the fact that they are fighting a losing battle.

Why do you think that the alliance between AAP and Congress did not happen?

Rahul Gandhi and his Congress do not want to defeat the BJP. Congress is weakening the Opposition. Look at what Congress did in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh or West Bengal. Why did Rahul Gandhi fight from Wayanad and that too against the Left? If he wanted to fight BJP, he should have fought from a state where the BJP is strong, like from Madhya Pradesh or Gujarat.

Full statehood for Delhi is the prominent campaign theme for AAP. But realising it is difficult as the enacting a Constitutional amendment is a difficult path. How are you going to achieve this?

There are a lot of things to be done. But we couldn't do a lot of things because the central government disrupted our programmes. Because the Delhi Development Authority did not give us land. Law and order as well as security do not come under us. We all know that the Modi government is not coming back and the next government is a coalition government. In a coalition government, seven seats is a huge number that can decide. We are very clear that we are not going to make any demands in terms of ministries or posts. We will support any non-BJP government that promises full statehood to Delhi. 

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