Raring to hit the campaign trail for the crucial Delhi Assembly election, Delhi Congress president Jai Prakash Agarwal has declared that the focus of the Congress campaign would be on an all-out development with a vision for future. The Congress campaign would highlight the achievements of Sheila Dikshit Government whether it is transport, education, health, or urban development. The basic aim is to make Delhi a first class Capital and enhance the quality of life for its citizens. Talking to The Pioneer, Agarwal exuded full confidence that his party would return to power in Delhi for the third time.
Ten years ago, when the Congress came to power in Delhi, one of the major issues was price rise and inflation. This time around, the Congress Government would be facing the same set of issues. Besides, issues like development, water and electricity, terrorism and security are also expected to be major issues in these polls. “We will respond to all the issues that Opposition parties raise. For 10 years we have worked for the people of Delhi. We would like to take that work forward. Our slogan would be Sewa aur Vikas,” he said. Although, a general feeling is that Sheila Dikshit’s Congress Government is facing a strong anti-incumbency factor this time after ruling the Capital for 10 years, Agarwal said: “Dikshit is still very popular and a known face among the voters. There would be pro-incumbency votes.”
According to Agarwal, the real campaign would begin only after party president Sonia Gandhi gives final approval to the list of candidates. Agreeing that inflation and developments in unauthorised colonies would dominate the election campaign, Delhi Congress president said that the party would try to convince the people that the State Government has no role in inflation or price rise. “It’s an international phenomenon. Every country is affected with it. The party believes sky-high prices is a national issue and will not affect its chances in the Assembly elections. It is also proud of the fact that Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit cushioned the hike in LPG through generous subsidies,” he said.
On the issue of regularisation of unauthorised colonies, the Congress has questioned why the Opposition – despite being in power before – has overlooked unauthorised colonies. “Why didn’t the BJP do anything for them?” Agarwal asked. According to Agarwal, the Sheila Dikshit Government has at least initiated development works in these colonies. “We have also legalised the 1639 unauthorised colonies and provided infrastructure to the poorest of the poor in the city,” he said.
Critising the BJP on the issue of terrorism, Delhi Congress president said the Congress has always condemned terror activities. “This is the only party which has suffered a lot from terrorism. BJP’s track record on terrorism is not too good. Everybody knows terrorists attacked Parliament during BJP regime. It’s an international problem and one should not make it an issue in the local election,” he added.
On the infrastructure development in the last 10 years, Delhi Congress president said that this Government has worked relentlessly on infrastructure. “The result is there for all to see. There is more electricity and water, better roads in the city. The Capital’s transport system is better, there is less pollution,” Agarwal said.
On corruption charges, Agarwal said that the Congress Government in Delhi has succeeded in providing corruption-free and transparent governance in the Capital. He said the BJP’s recent clamour about corrupt governance is conveniently aimed at the ballot, as it has never spoken on the subject before.
The vision of the Congress is empowering citizens to take part in the day-to-day administration. The party’s campaign would be development-centric and it would reel out the achievements of the past 10 years and what it proposes to do in the next five years. “The effort is to reach out to every segment of the society and offer a solution to the problems of all collectively. We would strive to make Delhi a Capital city where people feel proud to live. The basic aim is to improve the quality of life and offer a better Delhi to future generations,” he remarked.
Stating that the Congress had everything positive and development-oriented to offer to the people, Delhi Congress president said Delhiites were looking at issues that touched their daily lives and that of the future generations. It was due to persistent efforts and commitment of the Sheila Dikshit Government that Delhiites can now spot stars in the night sky in view of the reduced air pollution, he said. “In fact, clean air and green cover had resulted in a better environment in and around the Capital. The grey sky and choking atmosphere is now gone and people find it easier to breathe.”
Stating that the war on pollution had produced tremendous results, Agarwal said conversion of public transport into CNG and increase in the forest cover had brought about a sea change in the quality of life. The citizens of Delhi, non-Government organisations and children had a major role to play in the campaign for a clean and green Delhi.
He said the Congress Government would raise the issue of people’s participation in the day-to-day governance, improving the quality of administration, good governance and bringing down the walls, which hinder the smooth exchange of thoughts between the common man and the Government. During the past 10 years, the effort has been to give an open, transparent and efficient Government.
The active participation of the people has certainly led to improved governance at the local level and has in turn empowered people to handle their developmental projects with focused attention. Refusing to comment on the BJP campaign which has mainly focused on “negative” approach, Delhi Congress president said that the Congress had a positive agenda and a positive outlook. “The party was going to the polls with a clear agenda and full confidence under the leadership of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The slogan coined by Ms Gandhi, Jo Kaha, Woh Kar Dikhaya, will form the theme of the Congress campaign in Delhi,” he said.