Delhi BJP President Adesh Gupta started his political journey in 1986 as a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). He moved to the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha in 2001 and formally joined the BJP in 2009. He was elected from West Patel Nagar constituency to the Municipal Corporation and was appointed Mayor for North Delhi in April 2018. He has been the President of the Delhi BJP since June 2020. In an interview to Aparajit Chakraborty, Gupta talks about the performance of the AAP government in Delhi and how he proposes to strengthen the BJP in the national capital
Q. How do you look at the performance of the AAP government which has been ruling Delhi for seven years now?
A. The Delhi government led by Mr Arvind Kejriwal had listed out 70 promises in its poll manifesto during the past elections. From free metro and bus rides for women to the installation of CCTV cameras to Wi-Fi hotspots, the Delhi government has been on a desperate overdrive to provide ‘Freebies’ without any consideration to the actual requirements of Delhi. This ‘freebie’ agenda has drawn sharp criticism not only from the opposition but also from their ardent followers. There has been no new development for Delhi or its citizens. These days Kejriwal is busy making his image makeover in the media and amongst the public. AAP failed Delhi in Covid management during the second wave. No oxygen plants and proper healthcare arrangements were made. The Kejriwal government has failed to work on important issues like power, water, road infrastructure, public transport, health, food, ration and PDS, pollution control and environment management. So, in a nutshell, the performance of the Kejriwal government has been extremely poor.
Q. Why has the Delhi BJP not been able to win a single assembly election since 1998?
A. The BJP lost power in Delhi in 1998. AAP’s principal opposition was Congress led by Sheila Dikshit in 2015. Arvind Kejriwal defeated the three-time Congress chief minister who was facing charges of corruption. Since, AAP’s claim to fame was its anti-corruption stance, people voted for it. However, the first five years of AAP rule in Delhi has brought out its true face to the people. AAP countered its fading popularity by promising freebies in the last election. AAP’s involvement in Delhi riots, mishandling of Covid pandemic and the recent DTC bus corruption scandal have tarnished its image considerably. Also, BJP has gained majority in the Lok Sabha for two consecutive terms. Also, since 1997, BJP has been winning MCD elections except for a short while in between. So, therefore, the BJP position in Delhi has been getting stronger.
Q. The Narendra Modi led central government has enacted a law that says Delhi government means Lt Governor. Is this not an insult to Delhi’s democratically-elected government?
A. Delhi’s matters related to law and order, land, and services have always been with the LG. There was no problem on the issue of sharing duties and responsibilities between the LG and state government till AAP came into power. Earlier governments successfully maintained harmony working together to govern Delhi. However, AAP’s confrontational and unconstitutional approach was problematic. The President gave assent to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The state government will now have to seek the opinion of the L-G before taking any executive action. The bill aims to promote harmony between the legislature and executive and further define the responsibilities of the elected government and the Lt Governor, in line with the constitutional scheme of governance of NCT of Delhi.
Q. The brutal second Covid wave devastated Delhi during April-May this year, which had got worse due to an acute shortage of oxygen, hospital beds, and essential medicines. Don’t you think that both the Centre and the Delhi government are responsible for this epic tragedy?
A. Even after witnessing massive numbers of cases during the first wave, the state government was negligent and did not prepare for a second wave. The state government did not take any precautionary measures on its own. Delhi did not install oxygen plants, did not increase the number of beds and did not set up an efficient oxygen distribution system. There was a shortage of everything, most of the patients in Delhi died of oxygen shortage. In spite of huge support extended by the Central government to help the state there was a blatant attempt made to blame the Centre for all the state’s problems. Instead of helping people, the state government was playing politics. It is a case of huge criminal negligence from the state government.
Q. The national capital’s law and order situation remains a matter of serious concern, with the city continuing to be unsafe for girls and women. Who should be held accountable for it, given that Delhi Police comes under the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA)?
A. Delhi being the capital of India has always been in the limelight. However, Delhi Police is doing a commendable job as crime prevention and detection rate have improved manifold in the last few years. There has been a visible improvement in policing activities including traffic management in Delhi. Stricter law and enforcement measures should be implemented to curb crimes against women by the state government. Installation of street lights in dark areas, CCTV cameras should be taken care of to ensure safety of women by SG.
Q. There seems to be strong anti-incumbency against the BJP in areas of the three Delhi municipal corporations where it has been in power for the past 15 years. Don’t you think it will be a challenge for your party to retain them in the 2022 MCD polls?
A. There is anti-incumbency against AAP especially for its role in the recent Delhi riots and its failure during Covid second wave. There is no anti-incumbency against BJP in MCD as we have worked very well during the pandemic. In 2017 also, BJP had won 181 out of 270 wards spread across three civic bodies. Delhi BJP will start a public outreach programme from February to tell people about how the functioning of the three civic bodies has been adversely affected due to non-payment of dues by the AAP government in Delhi.
Q. What is your roadmap and vision for Delhi’s growth and development?
A. Delhi has always been considered one of the finest capital cities of the world. However, in the recent past, increasing population and pollution have taken their toll on Delhi. A proper action plan for infrastructural growth that caters to the environment should be implemented by the government. The key to harmonious growth is good urban planning. There is a serious concern to curb the alarming level of pollution in the city. Public healthcare, transport, and educational institutions need a boost. Cleaning of the Yamuna and moving polluting industries out of the city should be the priority. Clean and safe drinking water for all should be taken care of. This all has to be done in coordination with the central government as they are also major stakeholders in Delhi.