Honeymoon period is over in Delhi for AAP, BJP: Chacko

Honeymoon period is over in Delhi for AAP, BJP: Chacko

P C Chacko, AICC in-charge of Delhi

Pushed to the sidelines in Delhi politics, Congress is banking on the performance of the late chief minister Sheila Dikshit to make a comeback in the February 8 assembly elections. In a free-wheeling chat with Sagar Kulkarni of DH, P C Chacko, AICC in-charge of Delhi, claims that the honeymoon period of both the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was over and Delhiites were ready to experiment with the Congress once again.

Q. How confident are you about your performance in the Delhi elections?

A. The Congress party is better-equipped than both the AAP and the BJP in all the 70 constituencies of Delhi. They have the central government, they have the state government, they have official publicity. All that is fine. But on the sheer strength of our organisational structure, we were able to come second on five of the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. We were in the second position in 43 assembly constituencies. We are well-equipped. We are quite sure we will do better than Lok Sabha elections. We can manage to win a majority.

Q. What gives you this confidence?

A. We got the votes five months ago. Why should we not get the same votes? The BJP got 62% votes in Lok Sabha elections, but if you look at the five-year average, the BJP has not got more than 32% votes. The BJP’s own calculation is that they may not get the support they got in Lok Sabha polls. The AAP won 60% votes in 2015, won 67 out of the 70 seats, Modi got 60% votes in Lok Sabha elections—all this is a one-time phenomenon. This does not get repeated. That is not the basic strength of any party. All this was a result of the mahaul (atmosphere) prevailing at that time. Delhi will throw up surprising results this time.

Q. How will the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) move impact Delhi?A.

A. The BJP believes that the CAA and the NRC will consolidate the Hindu vote and that would go in their favour. But it has created tension and distrust in society. People generally do not like this. I think CAA and NRC will go against the BJP.

Q. Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress explored alliance with the AAP. Any thinking on that front now?

A. In Delhi, we are fairly sure that we can form the government on our own. The BJP and the AAP — their honeymoon period is over. The last election was the climax of the popularity of the AAP and they have already gone down. The BJP is also not being taken seriously by the people of Delhi. The national election was different. We feel that the people want to experiment with the Congress once again.

People now recall the 15-year rule of Sheila Dikshit government much more than the five years of the Arvind Kejriwal government. Today, Delhi is the most polluted city in the world, traffic problems are aplenty, the quality of tap water is worst. The AAP may have given some freebies, but the basic issue of Delhi’s development has not been taken care of by Kejriwal.

Q. So, you will seek votes on the basis of late Sheila Dikshit’s performance as chief minister?

A. Definitely. There is a huge difference between the situation in Delhi under Sheila Dikshit and now under Kejriwal. Today, the situation is the worst. We will offer many solutions in our manifesto. We will also offer Sheila Pension Yojana for the senior citizens under which they will get Rs 5,000 per month as pension. We also have plans to give out an unemployment allowance to people.

People will look up to us because we had a good track record during Sheilaji’s time. So, I think we have better prospects now. Sheilaji was our great leader.

Q. Delhi Congress was a divided lot before the Lok Sabha elections. Have things changed?

A. I don’t even remember it. Why do you recall such unholy things? Now, we are all united. There is no friction between Congress leaders. All former Delhi Congress presidents are working together – Arvinder Singh Lovely, Ajay Maken, J P Agarwal. All are participating in programmes charted out by current president Subhash Chopra. We are going to polls with total optimism.

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