The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) pitted Arvind Kejriwal against Vijender Gupta, Leader of the Opposition in Delhi Assembly from the Bharatiya Janata Party, by using his “distorted” photograph in one of its hoardings ahead of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi elections of 23 April. In an interview with The Sunday Guardian, Vijender Gupta, who lodged a complaint with the State Election Commission (SEC) demanding strict action against AAP, talks about the “lowly” reply he received from AAP’s state convener Dilip Pandey. Excerpts:
Q: The AAP, in its reply to the SEC, has denied it violated the model code of conduct. It also asked you to provide a different picture, if you were not happy with the one they had put up, to be used for the ad campaign. Your comment.
A: The AAP issued two letters—one to the SEC, and the other to me. In its reply to me, the party said I should not complain if my photo is replaced by that of Union Minister Vijay Goel. They have been humiliating me time and again. The poster move is nothing less than an act of vengeance. I have been constantly challenging Arvind Kejriwal for an open debate on major developmental issues, but he has chosen to stay mum. I have been demanding answers for the party’s misuse of public funds for paying Kejriwal’s lawyer (in the defamation case against Arun Jaitley) and hosting extravagant lunches. But he hasn’t as much as uttered a word. It’s a pathetic, a low standard reply they have given to an issue that demands a serious answer. I would say they have already conceded defeat; that’s why they are doing all kinds of irrelevant things.
Q: Didn’t the BJP also put up posters with the photographs of various AAP leaders accused of crimes?
A: That was done by some of my own people, not by the BJP. However, the posters were pulled down within a few hours.
Q: In the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections, AAP had posted photographs of Kejriwal against Kiran Bedi in its campaign posters. What was your objection to the use of your photograph?
A: I object to the way their party has made the elections a beauty contest. Polls should be the opportunity to discuss significant issues, which Kejriwal doesn’t want to confront. Also, what they have done is strictly against the model code of conduct. They have violated the law, and if they continue to do the same in future, I shall demand that the party be de-recognised.
Q. You have been demanding answers for AAP’s alleged plundering of public money to pay Kejriwal’s legal fees in the defamation case. You have also said the party used public money to host an expensive lunch. How has the party responded to your allegations?
A: First of all, Kejriwal has made his private case—his individual agenda—a government matter, which is unethical. The government doesn’t pay for a person’s private cases. This, I would say, is an extreme example of mis-governance, misuse of public funds, and criminal breach of trust.
Secondly, each plate in the lunch hosted at Kejriwal’s residence cost Rs 16,000. I even asked the Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to launch an inquiry into the matter. He said he did, but he hasn’t and is lying about it. They spent Rs 97 crore on advertisements for poll campaigns. This is a brazen loot of public money.