Asserting that there was no comparison between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi, Delhi Congress on Sunday said while the Gandhi scion was an undisputed leader, the Gujarat Chief Minister was a “leader of all disputes”.
The remark by Delhi Congress leader and Urban Development Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely came as BJP president Rajnath Singh announced that Mr. Modi will be the chairman of the party’s campaign committee for 2014 Lok Sabha polls at its executive, which was skipped by leaders like L.K. Advani and Yashwant Sinha.
Absence of the senior leaders from the national executive is being seen as their opposition to Modi’s elevation in the party.
“Rahul Gandhi is undisputed leader of the Congress party while Mr. Modi is the leader of all disputes,” Mr. Lovely, seen as potential aspirant for Chief Minister’s post in Delhi, said.
He was asked to comment on attempt by a section of BJP to pitch the Gujarat Chief Minister against the Congress vice-president.
“I don’t think there should be any comparison between the Congress vice-president and the Gujarat Chief Minister because Modi is still not acceptable to a large section in BJP. First let their party accept him as their leader,” Mr. Lovely told PTI.
The senior Delhi minister said though every Congress worker wants Mr. Rahul to become Prime Minister, he does not want so while Mr. Modi has been trying hard to be projected as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in the Lok Sabha elections.
Questioning Mr. Modi’s development agenda, Mr. Lovely said the development model adopted by him was “skewed” as fruits of various schemes have not reached all sections of the society in the BJP-ruled state.
“In Delhi you can see results of our development model. It reached all sections of society. We have ensured inclusive growth which is not there in Gujarat,” said Mr. Lovely, who is credited with transforming the public transport during his stint as Transport Minister.
Mr. Modi, who registered a third consecutive victory in assembly polls last year and is seen as a strong contender for BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, has been highlighting his development model for the state.
Asked about the Delhi Assembly polls slated for November, Mr. Lovely said Congress was confident of storming back to power for fourth term as BJP was grappling with the problem of leadership.
“I don’t think any educated citizen would vote for Vijay Goel. The party does not have a vision for the city. They do not have an agenda,” he said.
“We are confident of coming back to power for fourth straight term. We have transformed the power sector, significantly improved quality of education in government-run schools, ensured better healthcare facilities for all. We followed an agenda of inclusive growth which benefited every section of the society,” Mr. Lovely said.
Asked whether Aam Admi Party would be factor in the elections, Mr. Lovely said it will run away from the electoral politics at appropriate time.
“First of all, (Arvind) Kejriwal said that all politicians are thieves and now he wants to become one of them. During Anna Hazare’s agitation, they said that they wanted to address the issue of corruption and do not want to get into electoral politics. Now they want to get into electoral politics too,” Lovely said.
“They used to say they would do what Anna Hazare will tell them to do. Now they are doing something different which Anna Hazare is opposed to,” the Minister said.
“This is democracy, every person has the right to contest. But I am sure that they will not contest. They will be managed by BJP. It is ‘B’ team of BJP. They will run away from the elections. I hope they keep their word and contest the elections.
“These are people who are easily manageable. That is why I am telling them that don’t run away. They should not run away from the elections,” he said.
Questioning credibility of Mr. Kejriwal and his group, Mr. Lovely claimed the AAP has not yet applied for party symbol from the Election Commission as it was not serious about contesting the polls.
“They have not applied for their party symbol yet. They have not got themselves recognised by the Election Commission. What is their party symbol? Can anyone tell me? Like they have ran away from every statement they made earlier, they will also run away from contesting elections. I challenge them. If they respect their words, they should contest,” he said.
On regularisation of unauthorised colonies, Mr. Lovely said government was determined to provide the relief to residents of all 1,639 unauthorised colonies.
Delhi government had regularised 895 unauthorised colonies, home to around 35 lakh people, in September last year.
Mr. Lovely said government would regularise around 200 colonies “very soon”.
Asked about legal status of the 895 unauthorised regularised colonies, he said government has followed all required procedures to regularise them.
The Delhi government had issued provisional regularisation certificates to over 1,639 unauthorised colonies ahead of Assembly elections in 2008.
The then Dikshit government, while distributing the certificates, had promised to regularise the colonies if Congress came to power for the third term.
The unauthorised colonies are considered traditional vote-banks of Congress. After the Congress’ defeat in municipal polls in April last year, Ms. Dikshit had asked all the departments concerned to expedite the regularisation process.