‘BJP’s main poll pitch is the work by the Centre and non-performance of the Delhi government.’

New Delhi: Ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections on 8 February, Shyam Jaju, national vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, spoke to The Sunday Guardian on a host of issues. Excerpts:

Q: In your opinion, what is the prospect of BJP winning the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections?
A: People are not only upset, but have no hope on the AAP government which came to power five years ago. The sole alternative here is the BJP. In the recent Lok Sabha elections, we won all the seven seats. We were leading in 65 Assembly seats. Only in five Assembly seats did the Congress and AAP lead. Thus, in my opinion, with the hard work of our cadre and under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we are going to win this election with a thumping majority.

Q: What issues do you think will help the BJP come to power in Delhi?
A: The AAP did not fulfil the promises it made. For example, they promised to open 500 schools. But no new school was inaugurated in the last five years. They also promised to open 20 new colleges, but that also did not happen. They were supposed to install 15 lakh new CCTV cameras. However, they installed only 1 lakh as per their advertisements and no one knows even if that claim is true or not. The AAP is saying that they have distributed around 50 lakh masks. In every meeting I ask people who received the masks to raise their hands, but till date no one raised their hand. Delhi is the first city where children were forced to stay inside their homes for 15 days due to pollution and yet the government did not utilise the Rs 2,000 crore fund for pollution. The AAP has not added a single bed in the hospitals. Apart from their failure to open any new hospital, the AAP did not implement the Atal Ayushman Yojana in Delhi. On the other hand, we have regularised the unauthorised colonies. More than 2.5 lakh registrations have been done and many people have even started getting loans. Thus, our main electoral pitch is the work done by the Central government and non-performance of the state government. We are getting positive response from the people.

Q: What do you think about the AAP government’s freebie politics of free water, electricity subsidy?
A: The people of Delhi are smart. The AAP has not done anything in the last five years and has been announcing such schemes just six months before the elections. If they are expecting votes on that, it is not possible in Delhi. On the question of free water, people are informing us about the dirty water they are getting. Even the data of the Bureau of Indian Standards has revealed the low quality of water being delivered to Delhiites. When the AAP came to power, the Delhi Jal Board was earning Rs 200 crore in profit. However, today, the Jal Board is running at a Rs 800 crore loss. The fiscal deficit of this government is also increasing every day. The government is only functioning on advertisements. No new flyover or underpass is being built by this government.

Q: When you have these issues for elections on your platter, why are some BJP leaders trying to make Shaheen Bagh an electoral plank?
A: The Shaheen Bagh protests have become an issue as they (protesters) have blocked the road for one-and-a-half months. Which protest doesn’t allow journalists and ambulances to pass through? In democracy, you have the right to express your opinion. However, at the same time, people also have the right to use the road. The AAP is supporting the Shaheen Bagh protesters. Even Manish Sisodia has said this clearly. Besides, Arvind Kejriwal did not try to remove the protesters. AAP leaders like Amanatulla Khan and others gave provocative speeches on the protest. Their (AAP leaders) legal advisers are helping rioters to stay out of jail. So, their intention is clear to the people. People are watching the support that they (AAP) are giving to JNU’s Tukde Tukde gang and their stand on the Batla House incident.

Q: But Kejriwal was not seen in JNU or in Shaheen Bagh and Delhi Police comes under the Lieutenant Governor; so how can you blame Kejriwal for the law and order situation?
A: Why has Arvind Kejriwal not yet given the approval to prosecute people in Kanhaiya Kumar’s case? We have arrested Sharjeel Imam who gave an inflammatory speech to cut off our country. However, Kejriwal is delaying prosecution in the Kanhaiya Kumar case. It shows that the AAP’s ideology is not clear and they also do the same vote bank politics.

Q: Will the BJP continue the freebies that have been announced by the AAP if voted to power in Delhi?
A: In every democratic society, the government must think of giving some relief to people for public welfare. The AAP has not done anything to curb traffic jams in Delhi. They publicise the education in Delhi, but during their rule, 3 lakh students dropped out of school. There is no head mistress in schools which is resulting in falling standards in schools. Our free gas cylinder scheme was opposed by the AAP. This kind of government is not a government for public welfare. We have a vision for Delhi. We will make Delhi an international city. Why did the AAP announce these freebies just before elections? They don’t have any vision, but are doing politics in the name of freebies. We will look into the other facilities we can provide to people. Already under the “Jaha jhuggi wahi makan” scheme, people are getting benefits of up to Rs 13.5 lakh. In unregularised colonies, where it takes Rs 50,000 for stamp duty, we are doing it for Rs 250. Under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, people are getting free health insurance up to Rs 5 lakh.