Watch | It’s all about the local issues, not national politics or leaders, says AAP’s C.V. Raman Nagar candidate Mohan Dasari

Watch | In conversation with AAP Karnataka leader Mohan Dasari

‘When we fought the 2013 elections in Delhi, no one was a prominent face. Everyone was a fresh face emerging out of the “India Against Corruption” movement. That’s how we are fighting in Karnataka as well’

Updated - May 01, 2023 04:04 pm IST

Published - April 29, 2023 10:14 pm IST - Bengaluru

Mohan Dasari, the AAP candidate

Mohan Dasari, the AAP candidate | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Despite setbacks in its stronghold, Delhi and an unsuccessful debut campaign in the last Karnataka elections, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has hit the campaign trail again this election season.

In an interview with The Hindu, Mohan Dasari, State working president and C.V. Raman Nagar candidate, speaks about what the party’s chances are, and why they are focussing on local issues.

AAP has not had a successful outing in the last elections in Karnataka. What are you expecting this time?

In 2018, when we fought the first elections, we hardly fought from 30 seats. Also, in Delhi, that was the first government we had. We didn’t have much of the contributions to share, whether it is the education and healthcare revolution. This election, we have a proven model to share. People ask for Delhi model education now when we go for campaigning. The other thing is the kind of work we have done over the years in C.V. Raman Nagar. Even though we got a smaller number of votes last time, we did not sit at home. We restarted everything, and now every year this constituency has a local office. Our internal survey is also predicting that we will win in C.V. Raman Nagar.

AAP is heavily dependent on a set number of faces in Delhi. In Karnataka, you have no prominent faces. Is that going to hurt your chances?

When we fought the 2013 elections in Delhi, no one was a prominent face. Everyone was a fresh face emerging out of the “India Against Corruption” movement. That’s how we are fighting in Karnataka as well. It’s all about the local issues. In Bengaluru, people are struggling for the last 10-15 years. It’s all about the local issues, not national politics or leaders. Wherever we are going, we talk about good government schools, area clinics.

More than one lakh people in lower-income class areas where they still lack basic necessities. If you go to Binnamangala slum, which is right beside the 100 ft Road, they don’t even have proper public toilets. When people travel On Old Madras Road, people talk about the roads. Just beside, in New Baiyappanahalli, when I asked them what’s the first priority, they asked for a public toilet. The women said they go to the railway line and how they feel insulted. We are talking about basic necessities - water connection, pothole-free roads, good government schools and hospitals and we are able to connect with the people.

Has BBMP polls not being held affected the AAP’s chances in the Assembly elections?

Whether it is BBMP elections or State elections, we talk about Bengaluru issues. I agree; if BBMP elections had happened, the chances of more seats would have been brighter. But it is unfortunate and unconstitutional that by September, we complete eight years since the last BBMP elections were held. People are struggling for good roads and garbage management. A person cannot go to the MLA’s house for these issues. MLAs’ main responsibility is policy-making, not to fix roads or do civic roads; that’s the corporator’s job. One layer of administration has been removed for three years. Even now, we are hopeful of forming the council in the BBMP when elections are held.

Anti-corruption is the main plank of the AAP, but certain sections feel the AAP did not make its voice heard.

AAP in Karnataka is the only party that spoke about the corruption in both BJP and Congress. Even for Madal Virupakshappa, 40% commission allegations, we were the first to protest. For the Shivananda flyover, we renamed it as 40% commission flyover. When the Siddaramaiah government deactivated Lokayukta, we were on an indefinite fast to bring it back. So we have been fighting against corruption. What we are talking about is 0% commission and 100% work.

Bengaluru has by and large failed to throw up any surprises as far as the state assembly elections are concerned, which is a challenge for new parties. Will it change now?

In Bengaluru, there is an illegal alliance that is not seen anywhere else - BJP allies with the Congress and vice versa. Take the examples of BTM Layout, Padmanabhanagar, Jayanagar; the other party keeps dummy candidates. Even in C.V. Raman Nagar. Every election, Congress has changed its candidate here. For the next five years, no one works over here. This time, people are aware of this alliance. AAP has no baggage in Bengaluru and has a clean image, and we want to work for the people. Bengaluru is cosmopolitan, like mini-India. They know what we have done in Delhi.

But the party has had setbacks in its stronghold - Delhi. Will that have an impact here?

Every State is a new state for us. The issues in the State matter. As for the current situation in Delhi, people know why they (AAP leaders) are behind the bars. These are false cases to stop AAP’s expansion.

Realistically speaking, what are your chances in Karnataka?

We will definitely represent people in Karnataka in Vidhana Soudha. How many seats, it depends on the people. In Bengaluru and north Karnataka, we have a very good chance of winning some seats. For us, the BBMP elections are also very important, where we have a very good chance. We are the principal challengers to the BJP and Congress.

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