A new entrant in Maharashtra politics, the Aam Aadmi Party, is now spreading its wings in the state. While trying hard to work up the ladder and take Congress’ place as main Opposition in Maharashtra, AAP Maharashtra chief Brigadier Sudhir Sawant talks with the Free Press Journal’s Ronak Mastakar about the party’s future plans, the recent arrests of activists in Bhima-Koregaon violence case and more… Excerpts from the interview:
- You have been a part of Congress, what made you turn your back on the party and join Aam Aadmi Party?
Ans: I became a Member of Parliament in 1991 from Congress, when suddenly Manmohan Singh came in the picture and was appointed as Finance Minister. After his appointment, he changed the age old policy of governance and brought in globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation, out of the three I was opposed to privatisation, because of obvious reasons: profits will go in the pockets of private companies. At that time, the government also went on a land selling spree. They spoke of efficiency, which was nothing but crony capitalism, and that is why I opposed Congress and Manmohan Singh. In privatisation what happens is companies which have huge assets are given land at throw away prices, and these companies then sell these lands with a higher price and make profit out of it, all this was known to the government. There is no point in selling the government land, government sells a particular piece of land because they need money to bring down deficit, but instead of selling the land they can give government bonds, why to sell capital.
Manmohan Singh’s induction from World Bank to Indian Parliament has always been suspicious. After he was inducted he changed the entire policy and that is why I opposed him, it’s not only me, but many other Congress MP’s also opposed his policies, because his policies reeked of inequality, so there maybe generations of wealth, but common man has been suffering since then and poverty has only risen. Hence, we could see phenomenal increase in wealth or GDP, but the most number of farmers suicide happened during that era. Even poverty was there during former Late Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi’s regime, but there were less number of farmer suicides.
2. Being an ex-Military official what is your say on lynchings that are happening?
Ans: There is this deep rooted conspiracy since Independence, that Hindu and Muslims are two nations and they cannot stay together, this is a philosophy brought in by the British. This conspiracy of foreign forces to destabilise India has been going on for many years. It dates back to 1992, Babri Masjid’s demolition is a perfect example. And I was a part of the Parliament that time and I saw how Narasimha Rao neglected the whole issue, and I remember him once saying that Babri Masjid is gone, the whole problem will be solved.
Intelligence chief of that area, Ajoy Kumar Dhar has written in his book that Babri Masjid’s demolition plan was hatched in his house, so if the IB was also involved in Babri Masjid demolition than obviously the government was also involved. And since then hatred among communities and caste is spread by political parties for their own selfish reasons. Even today, the current government is neglecting the common man and buying Rafale jets at higher prices and has also created hatred in society, with the agenda being Hindu versus Muslims. So the government which was supposed to promote development, is, otherwise, busy promoting cow and bullocks which has caused several lynchings. These lynchings are in turn used to divert the attention of the people towards Hindu-Muslim fight — both Congress and BJP have equal hand in spreading communalism.
3. Saffron terrorism is on the rise in Maharashtra, after Narendra Dabholkar and latest CBI raids it is clear that Sanathan Sanstha like Hindu-outfits are spreading saffron terrorism. Your comment…
Ans: There is no such thing as ‘Saffron Terrorism’ and there is no such thing as ‘Hindutva’, because even Hindu farmers are dying, Hindu soldiers are being killed on the border, so neither farmers nor soldiers are benefiting by ‘Hindutva’, and Sanathan Sanstha people are murdering Hindus, so essentially both this terms should be eliminated from politics. So there is no such thing as ‘Saffron terrorism’ the term can be used is ‘Manuvadi terrorism’. ‘Manuvadi terrorism’ was also there during Congress’ time, because Narendra Dabholkar was murdered when Congress was in power. I have demanded that the killing of Dabholkar be treated as an act of terrorism, as once you term it as an act of terrorism UAPA, Mococa, etc can be applied. So, firstly, the one who should be held guilty is Congress, and BJP is anyway pro-Hindus so they will not act against such outfits. Sanathan literature itself says “Jo bhi dharam ke virudhh kaam karega, unko maarna hamara farz hai,” so that is why most of the people who are killed are Hindus. People who call themselves Hindus have not read the Bhagavat Gita in which there is no mention of Hindu or Hindutva, it just says do your duty and don’t expect returns. But nowadays under the name of Hinduism oufits like Sanathan Sanstha are spreading its own agenda and they want people to follow them blindly and they want to exploit people.
4. What are your plans to increase Aam Aadmi Party’s presence in Maharashtra, especially in a metropolitan city like Mumbai where your political party’s presence is close to minimal?
Ans: We will bring ‘Delhi Model’ to Maharastra. We will bring same facilities as Arvind Kejriwal brought in Delhi, which not a single government in the country has been able to achieve or do such things like, for example, government schools are developed on the lines of private schools, the AAP-led Delhi government also offers 80,000 liters of water for free, even electricity is very cheap in Delhi. Why can’t the Maharashtra government give all this facilities? For instance, if a person is earning Rs 10,000 and his is electricity bill is Rs 4000 in Maharashtra how will that person survive! The Delhi government has also rolled out Mohalla Clinics where people get free treatments and medicines, which is a big thing in this country where medical treatments are getting costlier day by day. All facilities which the Delhi government is giving is helping the common man to save money, around Rs 7 lakh a year is saved by the common man in Delhi due to all these facilities. And on the other hand people are still waiting for Rs 15 lakh which Narendra Modi promised during 2014 general elections. The AAP-led Delhi government is also an example in itself because it is corruption free, while other state governments in India are corrupt. So we will follow the AAP-Delhi government policies and bring all those facilities to Maharashtra once we come to power.
The other strength of the Aam Aadmi Party is its volunteers who are hardworking, dedicated and work selflessly for the party, which other parties lack. We will also mobilise the masses towards developmental model and remove communalism from their mind and fill it with development, so we request the common man to vote for development and not for communalism.
5. What would you say about the arrests of left-wing activists’ alleged involvement in Bhima-Koregaon violence?
Ans: That is completely ‘Facism’. India in recent times is no longer democratic it has become ‘Facist’, what it means is dictatorship in the garb of democracy, that is what Hitler did and that what Narendra Modi is doing. Even BJP MPs or MLAs are not allowed to say anything against the party because it is an order from the high command. Narendra Modi is always lying and makes false promises and does whatever he wants. Lately, several activists who are also journalists, writers have been arrested on charges of having leftist ideology, I don’t understand what is harm in having leftist ideology? Parties like CPM, CPI follow this ideology, unless and until you prove that they have guns or have created violence you can’t arrest them, so these arrests are done to just divert attention from Bhima-Koregaon investigation where Ekbote and Bhide are still roaming free — who are the main culprits of the violence.
6. Most of the parties in the opposition are creating a united front to fight the BJP. Will AAP join the opposition too?
Ans: Congress and BJP are two side of the same coin. The decision of the alliance will be made by the party high command. For assembly elections, I would like to form an alliance with Non-Congress and Non-BJP parties in Maharashtra, and if that’s not possible we will contest solo. Nobody can predict in politics, anything can happen. We are firm on our agenda that is fight against corruption. It’s the people who will take the decision of whom they want to vote for. We are not scared of fighting Modi we will emerge in upcoming general and assembly elections. Power of the corporate world is so immense that it can influence the decisions of political parties, and these corporate companies want these two parties to be in power for their own benefits. And now as Arvind Kejriwal is becoming popular among the masses so these political parties and corporate companies are scared, and now Modi has started creating hurdles and targeting AAP-led Delhi government.
7. Maharashtra government has approved two projects, Jaitapur project for electricity and Nanar refinery project. CM Fadnavis claims these projects will not only provide jobs but also solve our state’s electricity, problem. But the projects are being objected by the opposition parties and the residents of these villages. What is AAP Maharashtra’s stance on both?
Ans: This is crony capitalism. Whole world is now against Nuclear power generation, in Germany all the nuclear rectors have been shut down, now they are going solar, so why do India need such nuclear plant, why government wants to bring Saudi Aramco here. Jaitapur and Nanar have a large amount of greenery and tourism, these coastal areas have good amount flora and fauna which will be destroyed if these projects come up. Looking at the aftermaths, I don’t want both the project to come. We (AAP) will oppose it with tooth and nails.
8. Recently we have seen protests related to quota reservations, Maratha quota stir and now Dhangar community. What is AAP’s stance on this? But AAP hasn’t made a comment on it yet. What is your political party’s view on reservation?
Ans: Basically this is another attempt to destabilise India. If anybody needs to given reservations three things should be done:
- The backward class commission of the state has to declare that particular community as backward class, which is in the hands of the Chief Minister, even in past they have refused to alot reservation for Marathas; Devendra Fadnavis could have done it in one month for which he has taken four years, and now he is saying in November he will give reservations to Maratha but by that time election process will start and then he will go back on his word and say after we come in power again that time we will give.
- Even if he gives reservation in November, then the point arises of constitutional amendment, unless the constitutional amendment is made by the parliament the quota above 50% cannot be sanctioned, Modi can do it in 10 daysbut last four years why hasn’t he done it?
- And last is thing is you need to know the exact population of that community, for which you need to do caste-based census and unless you know what are the actual numbers of the Maratha community you cannot give reservations to 16 or 20 percent of the said community.
So even if they give reservation, but the constitution amendment is not done, this process will go on and on. In short they are fooling Marathas. Even Sharad Pawar and Congress fooled Marathas by not giving them reservations, and now it’s BJP. They say they will support Maratha community and give them reservation, but in reality their actions show that they are opposing it. I say is do caste based census and give reservations according to the numbers, and this has been accepted by the parliament, but the Maharashtra government is not doing it. In this everyone would benefit, even Muslims would have gotten reservation and this would have solved the problem. Basically neither the Central nor the State government is serious about reservations, what they are doing is politicising this issue. One thing is for sure Maharashtra government will not give reservation to the Maratha community. So till Fadnavis’ term ends there will be no reservation, there will be only promises nothing else.
9. It is only during monsoon that road/potholes issues are taken up, authorities are blaming each other for poor conditions of roads in Mumbai. But there hasn’t been a concrete solution on it yet. Because when we question the authorities they would say this road comes under the state and that under the civic body. There’s no end to this. What would you say about the apathy of the authorities?
Ans: The main problem is the quality of the roads, which is bad, and due to which every year Mumbai faces potholes problem. The reason for bad quality of roads is corruption which takes place between babus and contractors. Why only in Mumbai, why don’t we see agitations against roads in Delhi? It’s because there is no corruption there. And in lesser money the Delhi government builds more. But here Maharashtra is the most corrupt state and BMC is the most corrupt civic body in the country. So this is the main reason why potholes are there and AAP will fight against the potholes and corruption both.
10. There is a growing dissent against the BJP. A lot of promises made by Prime Minister Modi in 2014 are forgotten; price rise, job loss, etc have only gone up since 2014. What your suggestion to PM Modi be?
Ans: To PM Narendra Modi, I will only say practice what you preach. Narendra Modi always tells lies, but people believe him thinking he is speaking the truth. And if Narendra Modi really wants to leave his mark, he can do something sincere and stop giving jumlas to people.
11. What are AAP’s plans for the upcoming 2019 elections?
Ans: We are going to contest all elections: state as well as assembly. We are planning to contest elections on 200 seats (out of 288) in Maharashtra. And we will contest elections on a popular movement, during which we will convince the people of state that AAP is the only solution to end corruption and have good governance in state, and I’n sure people of Maharashtra will respond in positive manner. In three months we have grown ten fold, and this shows that people of Maharashtra have accepted AAP and they want us to come in power. People from across the state are joining AAP and in next three months we will have a good number of followers with a good political stance. And by the time elections arrive, we will be very strong; we might ever replace Congress in state and become the main Opposition, like in Punjab.