Want to end corrupt system
Gopal Rai, a senior Aam Aadmi Party leader and member of its political affairs committee, began his political career in the CPI-ML students wing, All India Students Association. After resigning from AISA, he was associated with Indian Students Union as its president. He has worked for the Janlokpal movement since its inception and sat on a 10-day fast for the cause in July 2012. In an interview to ABHIJEET ANAND, Rai said the only way to fight a corrupt system is through politics.
What is your own assessment of what AAP has achieved in the 49 days that it was in power in Delhi?
It seems that the way Aam Aadmi Party formed the minority government despite political opposition, an example has been set before the whole country of a new kind of political set-up. This is the first time that a government took decisions without any kickbacks, without any compromise and without any pressure from the power companies or babus. There are middlemen who finalise deals for whopping amounts of money. For the first time, a government came which put a stop to this. Definitely we did a lot to change the way things were. The government worked a lot. The results of the work we have done will be long term.
Like the membership campaign will you also start a special drive to raise funds for fighting the Lok Sabha election?
For the Delhi assembly elections also we raised funds and we are forming teams for raising funds for the Lok Sabha election. Soon, the process will start in the whole country. Without a minimum fund, we cannot take this mission forward. We do not take black money. We are setting up a system for that.
If the corporate houses that also give donations to Congress and BJP are willing to give donations to AAP will the party accept them?
We do not have an objection to taking funds from corporate houses. But all donations of more than Rs 10 lakh have to go through the political affairs committee. We discuss it. We check the background of the donations before accepting them.
Do you have any regrets about the Somnath Bharti episode?
There are two aspects to this. There is a widespread drug and sex racket going on in Delhi and Khirki Extension is the centre of that. Delhi Police is being given money by the racketeers. The initiative taken by Somnath Bharti has exposed the way the Ugandan women are being forced into prostitution. In the nexus, all the politicians are also involved. We are proud of the initiative taken by Bharti. On the other hand, the party did express objection to the tone of his language. We understand that there is a decorum in doing something. But somebody has to do away with this deep-rooted scourge.
Madhu Bhaduri, a founder member of AAP, was not allowed to express her opinion at the national executive meeting. Your comment.
Everybody has the right to raise his or her view. But in any platform it is not necessary that your view has to be accepted. When you go out of control, there is a question mark on your intention. There are differing opinions in any meeting of our party. Opinions, however, can change after we see the facts. In the Ugandan women issue of Khirki Extension when we saw the videos and assessed things, we changed our opinion. Everything was planted in this case.
There is a popular accusation that AAP is dominated by males. How do you see this?
Within AAP, only struggle and ideology dominate. It is on the basis of these that the movement has come to this stage. These are the core values. Gender issues are not a question. We do not think in this way. We are careful about caste, gender, etc. But this is not our primary ideology. We are here to change the system. Three women won in the Delhi Assembly election and all were from AAP. A 26-year-old woman became a minister. Could she have become a minister if there was male domination in AAP?
Will the party use the recent opposition by Congress to the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill in its election campaign?
It was very difficult for the political parties to accept the Bill. The whole political structure survives on corruption. The entire country was united in it demand for Jan Lokpal. The UPA and Opposition had passed a sense of the House resolution that it will bring the law. But it did not. So they will try to block it till their last breath. How can it be unconstitutional? A Bill having a provision that says that a CM can be sent to jail for corruption cannot be unconstitutional.
You have not clarified whether Aam Aadmi Party will raise this in the election campaign?
Look, when our main aim is to set up an empowered system against the corrupt system, these issues will be raised in the future Delhi Assembly election and Lok Sabha election also. Definitely, it will be raised during our campaigns.
Training of the volunteers is being done by AAP. Is it because the volunteers are not following your diktat? They became unruly at the protest carried out by then CM and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal, despite directions from senior leaders of the party.
In whatever happened at India Gate during the protest on Nirbhaya or at Rail Bhavan, the volunteers did not have a role to play. The violence is planted by other political parties. Some people are ready to cash in on the violence and they plant elements in any protest. Any protest loses ethicality once it becomes violent and the police can wield its power after that.
Was the decision to resign from the Delhi government a politically motivated one?
The whole movement has become political. We want to destroy the corrupt system. Tell me, what can happen without politics?
How many seats will AAP contest and how many do you hope to realistically win?
The political affairs committee has not taken a decision on how many seats the party will contest in the Lok Sabha elections. We cannot say about how many seats we can win. It is up to the public.