Gautam Gambhir says he wants to transform East Delhi into one of the most developed constituencies.
New Delhi: In an interview with The Sunday Guardian, cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir said that the electoral arena was quite different from the cricket pitch, but he was up for any challenge, notwithstanding the controversies springing up since he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. Excerpts:
Q: When did you decide to join politics?
A: There was a time when I asked myself whether I want to keep tweeting about issues or do something about them. I had two choices: To either stop tweeting and turn a blind eye about whatever is happening in the country or do something about it. I couldn’t have opted for the first, but I went for second. Instead of sitting quietly, I wanted to implement my ideas on the ground. That’s how I decided to take the political plunge. I wanted to be more than just a Twitter sensation and reach out to people.
Q: Candidates get ticket at a much later stage of their political career, but you got a straightaway entry. The Opposition had painted an image of you being a “parachute candidate”. What are your views regarding that?
A: It is the Bharatiya Janata Party which decided to field me as a Lok Sabha candidate, I had never asked for a ticket. I am impressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and what he had done in the last five years—be it Uri or Pulwama—we have seen the developments that have taken place under his strong leadership.
Q: You had challenged Arvind Kejriwal for debate, accused him of betraying the people of the national capital. Don’t you think it would have been ideal had you sought a direct debate with Atishi Marlena and Congress’ Arvinder Singh Lovely?
A: I think that in the last four-and-a-half years, there have only been debates and dharnas in Delhi. I have thrown the ball in Kejriwal’s court and if he wants to accept, he will or he won’t. He has failed the people of Delhi and he is the one who is responsible for what has happened in Delhi. It will be better for the Delhi Chief Minister if instead of speculating on my future, he concentrates more on his party. AAP and its candidates are wasting their time speaking on my future plans and commitments.
Q: Atishi has filed a series of allegations against you. How do you respond to that?
A: That is for the Election Commission to decide. As far as I am concerned, I have only voted from Rajender Nagar and not Ramjas Road, where I used to live with my grandparents as a kid. If someone stoops down to that level and tries to cancel the nomination of someone who is just 5-6 days old in politics and wants to file an FIR against him, it is petty and shameful. Even after being in politics for a longer time, AAP has nothing new to give to the people instead of hiding behind the shield of statehood.
The BJP, on the other hand, do not want to stoop down to that level. We have got a vision of transforming the East Delhi constituency into one of the most developed constituencies in Delhi. We don’t want to make false promises or turn Delhi into London or Paris. We want to turn Delhi into a city where people have access to clean water and better infrastructure.
Q: You spoke about making Delhi a better place. Coming back to your constituency, what do you think are the major issues in East Delhi?
A: The Ghazipur landfill is a big issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Parking is a problem, too, and hence we are planning to construct a multi-level parking to ease traffic congestion in East Delhi.
Like there is North Campus, we would like to develop East Campus in this constituency. We are planning to convert the Yamuna Sports Complex into a world-class stadium.
Q: What are your campaign strategies?
A: I have just joined politics and it will definitely not be a cakewalk for me. I have come with a clean heart. I will make promises only that are achievable. Take for instance, the basic problems in Delhi are deteriorating air quality and shortage of clean water; addressing these basic issues is a must to lay a strong foundation.