Notably, there was no place in Delhi where the AQI reading was in the 'severe' zone on Sunday.
Sanjay Singh is a member of the Rajya Sabha who hogged the limelight for his bravado in and outside Parliament in raising issues of public interest. He is the national spokesperson of the Aam Aadmi Party and the state-in-charge for Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and Rajasthan. He has been a senior leader of the party since its inception in November 2012 and is a member of the party’s foremost decision-making body, the Political Affairs Committee (PAC). He was elected to the Rajya Sabha on 8 January 2018 from the state of Delhi.
While he has been quite vocal in raising the issue of corruption, ever since a Hindenburg Research report exposed the Adani scam, Singh is spearheading a campaign against Union Government. In a candid interview with Anjali Bhatia of The Statesman, Singh, the flamboyant spokesman of the AAP, poured his heart out. Following are excerpts from the interview:
Q: This year, there are elections in nine states of the country. In which states will your focus be? And in which state are you expecting to form a government?
A: The Aam Aadmi Party is building its strong organisational base in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh. As for the question of how many seats will be contested in which state, the party will decide when the time comes. The AAP is preparing to contest elections with a strong organizational base focusing on four states.
Q: There will be Lok Sabha elections in 2024. Which issue will you take to the public? How are you preparing for the general elections with the NDA Government on the one hand, and the grand alliance of the Opposition on the other? Where do you see yourself in the elections?
A: Lok Sabha elections are very important for us. As far as the issues in the elections are concerned, unemployment is the big issue while inflation is the second big issue. We will reach out to the public with these issues and tell them what could be the solution. I think it will be our priority to fight elections on the issues concerning the common man. As far as the alliance is concerned, the Aam Aadmi Party is open to tie-up with like-minded parties though we have not yet decided on this. We have formed our government thrice in Delhi and in Punjab with an absolute majority, in Gujarat we have got about 14 per cent votes and five seats. State after state, the Aam Aadmi Party is growing with the support of people and their love and affection.
Q: How will you take the party forward against the backdrop of investigation agencies targeting your ministers? How will you overcome this challenge?
A: We are being targeted to divert public attention from the real issues confronting the people. It is the misuse of the investigation agencies. They (the BJP) do not have an agency to take action against the corrupt people who join their party. No action has been taken against them. Hemant Biswa Sarma who is involved in the water scam has not been prosecuted. Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari were involved in the Saradha scam but were not prosecuted. Yeddyurappa was involved in the mining scam but was not prosecuted. Ajit Pawar who was involved in irrigation scam was not prosecuted. Shivraj Singh was involved in the Vyapam scam, but no action has been taken against him.
Whoever joins their party, no action will be taken against him. Misuse of the investigation agencies is the symbol that reflects the cowardice of the BJP. The Aam Aadmi Party is fast moving ahead, and that is the reason why they want to bring down our morale by filing false cases against our leaders. But the public understands this and people will respond when the time comes. The alleged liquor scam smacks of a political conspiracy. Manish Sisodia is behind bars despite doing a good job in the field of education. Satyendar Jain did a better job in the health sector. He paid for being associated with the Aam Aadmi Party. It’s rare to see a democratically elected public representative being arrested on charges which are yet to be proven in the country
Q: For the first time in nine years, you fiercely opposed corporate scams and raised slogans of Modi-Adani Bhai Bhai in front of the Prime Minister in the Rajya Sabha. Why did you not make much headway?
A: I think the slogan I used reflects the truth. This is not just a slogan. As for the black money, neither the CBI is investigating, nor is it doing anything to bring it back from abroad. I raised slogans right in front of Modi ji, yet he didn’t react. As far as getting a lead is concerned, my words, my slogans, and my voice have reached the people. As the Opposition, we are playing our role, the rest is left to this country.
The public is watching everything, how their money deposited in the SBI and the LIC is being squandered. All the money was invested in Adani’s companies. His shares were overvalued. I understand this is the biggest fraud played on the people after the Independence of India. Why did not the media pay heed, why it is not becoming a big issue? I think it will definitely become a big issue after the intervention of the Supreme Court. The way the Chief Justice of India said that the apex court will decide which agency should do the investigation is an indication of that. It is progressing slowly but steadily. My slogans and my efforts are bearing fruit. It is the effort of the Aam Aadmi Party, whatever step we have taken to raise this issue will not go in vain.
In eight years, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted 3,000 raids but has been able to prove charges against only 0.5 people. Is it not the misuse of investigative agencies? Does it not reflect on the fake action against leaders of the Opposition? You have unleashed the CBI and the ED on your rivals. Where would this ED go when Adani’s scam comes to the fore? But there must be fairness.
Q: Free electricity and water in Delhi and you have recently started a monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 for women in Punjab; why are you not able to set foot in other states after all these welfare schemes for the public?
A: The fastest-growing party in India is the Aam Aadmi Party. The party is getting all the love and affection from the people of the country because of the good work of the Kejriwal Government in Delhi. The government of Maan ji is working very well in Punjab, on electricity, water, education, and on mohalla clinics. We are working on all these issues. We are working to provide employment. Because of this, the party is expanding its base across the country.
Q: What are the issues that you are going to highlight in the second budget session? What is your strategy to take on the government at the Centre?
A: There are many issues we will take up. Prominent among them are inflation, unemployment, and the plight of the farmers. We will raise all these along with the biggest corporate scam of the world. I will raise the issue again in the House. The AAP is committed to this as it is an issue related to the people of the country. People invest money in the LIC for their daughter’s marriage, for their medical treatment, etc. If their money is squandered like this, how then can this not be an issue, and if not in the biggest temple of democracy, where then will these issues be discussed?
Q: This is the first time in the history of the Rajya Sabha that action is being taken against MPs for indiscipline. What do you have to say about that?
A: This is not the first time in the history of the Rajya Sabha that action has been taken against MPs. I have faced such situations many times, but I can tell you that I have never raised my voice in the upper house over my personal fight. Increase my salary or give me a nice bungalow or I want a car or a higher salary, these have never been my issues. Whenever I raised my voice against the three black laws of the farmers, I was suspended. Now that he (Modi) accepted that he had made a mistake, I would like to ask why I was suspended. Was the issue I raised in the Rajya Sabha at that time wrong?
Q: There has been an uproar over the MCD mayoral elections. The same was witnessed during the polls for the Standing Committee as well. How will you be able to work for the welfare of the public in the MCD for five years?
A: In Delhi, we are not allowing the hooliganism of the Bharatiya Janata Party to continue. The BJP lost 104 seats in the elections. Their 134 seats have come to us, yet they were insisting that the mayor should be theirs. Eventually, the mayor was elected by our party that too with a good margin of votes. We polled 150 votes against their 116 votes. Since we are also winning the election of the sitting committee they are upset. They have looted MCD for 15 years, for which the voters have shown them the door. Yet they don’t want to leave.
It has become routine with the BJP, if they lose the election, they kidnap the elected representatives. The same thing happened in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, and Goa. MLAs were bought and sold, picked up from one state, and kept in another. The BJP is openly killing democracy and the Constitution. But we won’t allow this to happen in the MCD.
Q: This time, you also accused the Rajya Sabha chairman of giving more time to the ruling party while not heeding the Opposition.
A: As far as the Chairman of Rajya Sabha is concerned, I have not made any direct comment on him. As chairman, he is the guardian for all of us. But we all expect him to give everyone a chance to speak in the House. Q: Are you now preparing to enter South India also? A: Gradually, the party will expand its base in the entire country. At present, we are focused on the states which have elections this year and also on the municipalities in UP. We are contesting the elections with full preparation. After that, we will contemplate the Aam Aadmi Party’s growth in the rest of the country.