‘Kejriwal Brigade worked underground for two months after Lok Sabha failure’

AAP leader Gopal Rai says the party is focussing on winning the elections instead of protesting on the ground against CAA, or violence in universities

January 28, 2020 01:13 am | Updated 01:13 am IST - New Delhi

NEW DELHI, 25/01/2020: Aam Aadmi Party leader Gopal Rai during an interview in New Delhi on January 25, 2020. 
Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

NEW DELHI, 25/01/2020: Aam Aadmi Party leader Gopal Rai during an interview in New Delhi on January 25, 2020. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The most important challenge for the Aam Aadmi Party and the people of Delhi right now is to form an AAP government in the city. It is necessary for the Constitution, democracy, and humanity, said Minister and member of AAP’s Political Affairs Committee Gopal Rai during a recent interview. Excerpts:

What are the issues in your constituency Babarpur?

Mostly BJP candidates have won from Babarpur in the past and due to their politics of Hindu-Muslim polarisation, the area slowly went backwards. In the last five years we worked on basic facilities and we have solved 90% of the problems. We have developed roads and mohalla clinics.

What are the promises you are making to people of Babarpur for the next five years?

Now we are going towards different projects. We have passed a project for a 100-bed hospital and land has been identified. We are also working to construct a mini-stadium, an auditorium, and a new school.

You were the party in-charge during the Lok Sabha election and AAP did not win any seat. What has the party done differently since then?

At the time of the Lok Sabha election we were not weak at the organisation level. We did a strong campaign but the situation was very different. Within a month of the general election, we made direct connect with the public at the booth level. We did underground work for two months without any publicity. No one knew what we were doing. We asked people what were they thinking. And after that we released the first slogan — Dilli mein toh Kejriwal. It came from the people. AAP candidates are going to win with a greater majority this time.

Could you tell us more about the work done in those two months?

We had made a ‘Kejriwal Brigade’ and appointed 1,200 people to get feedback from the voters. That information has helped us.

Many leaders who joined the party recently have been given tickets, while some sitting MLAs and party leaders have been overlooked. Do you think this will affect the cadre morale?

We have done this for only five-six seats. When we took feedback and did surveys, the names of the politicians we have given tickets to came up as popular leaders in the area. We approached these leaders, and those who were ready to join us were given a chance to contest on AAP ticket.

What are the challenges that the party is facing this time?

The BJP does not have any leadership and they are trying to polarise this election along communal lines. The people are apprehensive that the BJP might do something right before the elections.

Why is AAP not protesting on the ground against the citizenship law or violence in JNU and Jamia?

The most important challenge for AAP and the people of Delhi right now is to form an AAP government. It is necessary for the Constitution, democracy, and humanity. And we are fighting for it. If a BJP government is formed, then for five years no work will happen. So, we are fighting a real democratic battle and going forward with this challenge is priority. I think that the first challenge for the people of Delhi is February 8.

Mr. Kejriwal did not meet the victims of JNU violence. Does AAP feel that there will be a backlash if it supports CAA, NRC and JNU?

The party is focusing on the Assembly elections. We are putting our full energy in it. I feel that right now, more than going to any protest, the more important thing is to stop a government that has an undemocratic thought process from entering Delhi.

What is AAP’s plan after the elections? Does it want to concentrate on Delhi or revive its national dreams?

The work will be done in two parts. The AAP government will focus on development work in Delhi. And the party will focus on spreading AAP nationwide.

You are a member of the Political Affairs Committee, the highest decision-making body of AAP. Why have so many founding members of the party left?

They tried to analyse things from a short-term view. They were hasty. When things are complex, you feel that what you are thinking is the truth, but that is not the reality and it requires time to understand that. We have fulfilled the commitment with which we came to power. I feel that they all [founding members] took their decisions very hastily. Change and revolution will not happen in a short time. There will be a lot of ups and downs. It requires time.

How has AAP changed since it was formed nine years ago?

There has not been much change. Earlier, volunteers had to go and campaign. Now people campaign for us. Earlier, we had to go and make the people understand, as the party was new, now people have understood us. Now, the rickshaw-pullers, street vendors and even the students of government schools are our spokespersons.

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