‘Will give fresh faces a chance again in 2022 polls’
BJP’s main strategy for the elections is to expose the AAP government’s failures on the civic front
With a vision to enhance its stature in the 2022 civic body elections, the BJP in Delhi has pressed the reboot button. Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta speaks to The Hindu on issues ranging from the recent reorganisation of the party’s State unit and internal discontent to repeating its strategy of fielding fresh faces in the polls.
You took over the reins of BJP’s Delhi unit months after its defeat in the Assembly polls. What is your plan to rejuvenate the party in Delhi?
We have started doing that from the bottom upwards. We began with making a new team and reorganising the party’s organisation from the mandal level. In fact, both the zila and mandal levels have been reorganised to include women, young faces, and those with an impeccable social image. From October 25, we will begin training the new team at identifying and countering the failures of the AAP government and in the merits and the vision of the Modi-led government at the Centre. Over 28,000 party workers will be trained in relation to the vision, ideology and organisational integrity of the party.
How did you choose individuals for various posts?
The main objective was to pump young and energetic individuals into the party. No one was chosen because they are considered close to someone else. We did not impose the choices of the party’s leadership on the cadre. We surveyed and made choices on the basis of the opinions of over 5,000 individuals connected to the party and by considering how they could add to the organisational strength of the State unit.
There seems to be some discontent in the unit after the reorganisation. Some individuals — from MPs to previous office bearers — are apparently unhappy. How do you plan to persuade everyone to come together and work for the same objective?
I would not say there is discontent but, rather, disagreements which are characteristic of any big family. The party’s constitution limits the number of posts but just because someone did not get one doesn’t mean they will not be utilised. We have spoken to each other about the fact that overall we now have a very good team with an average age of 47; the strengths and efforts of every individual will be needed and utilised whether or not they occupy a post.
What are your strategies for the municipal polls in 2022? What do you think are the strengths you will build your campaign on?
Despite being starved for funds, the Municipal Corporations of Delhi have done very good work in public healthcare, education and mitigating pollution, which the people of the city know. Delhi has a peculiar system because of its municipality authorities. Many times, the civic body does the best possible work but it either falls through because of the inaction of another authority. People know this. On one hand, we have undertaken projects such as improvements related to landfills – both the Bhalswa and Ghazipur landfills will see drastic reductions in height within a year – and on the other, we will expose the Delhi government for its failure in not doing what it has the power to, in relation to civic issues for the elections.
Are you likely to field fresh faces in the municipal elections like in 2017? Do you think such a strategy would work again? What is your stance on the reunification of the three civic bodies?
It is too early to say precisely what the party will do but I will say that it believes in the potential of such an approach. It believes in pumping fresh blood into the organisation and giving people with a clean image and reputation a platform to influence social change. So we will surely give such people a chance in 2022 as well. As far as reunification is concerned, that is a long process and there is no proposal for it at the moment though it is clear that they were divided due to political reasons. At the end of the day, whether there are three bodies or one, they will depend on funding from the State government, which is hurting them by delaying funds.
Delhi government is attacking the BJP-run civic bodies on a daily basis, regarding the lack of funds to run hospitals and schools. How do you respond to these charges? Where does the problem related to funding actually lie and why?
In this city, the fact that the civic bodies do 90% of the work and must remain dependent on the Delhi government for 90% of the funds is a tragedy. The Delhi government has surpassed all limits when it comes to starving the corporations for funds which obviously hampers their work. But in spite of it, they have performed exceedingly well on various fronts. On one hand, there are the civic bodies that are doing the best they can despite delayed funding and on the other, is a government which promises to pay the examination fees of economically backward students but refuses to do that at a time when they are struggling due to the COVID-19 crisis. There have been times in the past when there was one party’s government at the Centre and another’s in the city but such politics around funding didn’t exist; it was never this bad.
Speaking of politics, both the Delhi BJP and AAP have more or less gone silent on the Delhi riots. What is your opinion?
The riots were a sponsored conspiracy to aid appeasement politics. It is clear and there are WhatAapp chats to prove that Popular Front of India, AAP and Tukde Tukde gang came together to create the riots. AAP’s Tahir Hussain was not acting alone; he is connected to AAP’s senior leadership. People were called to wreak havoc for the political gain of others.