By Ashish Mishra and M.R. Narayan Swamy
New Delhi, Jan 27 (IANS) The AAP is “comfortable” with Delhi’s new Lt Governor Anil Baijal and is also confident of winning assembly elections in both Punjab and Goa, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia says.
An election victory in a major state like Punjab will give a huge boost to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) nationally for its brand of “clean politics”, Sisodia said in a 45-minute interview here.
In contrast to the uneasy ties it had with former Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, Sisodia told IANS that the Delhi government was “comfortable” with Baijal, who took charge on December 31.
“I have met him many times and we feel comfortable with him,” said Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio and is a confidant of Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal.
“We (Delhi government and Baijal) have been discussing issues. Many files that had been held up (by Jung) are being cleared… He is a positive man.”
Sisodia said Baijal had worked in several government departments in Delhi and knew the problems faced by the national capital.
Sisodia’s praise of the new Lt Governor marks a major departure from the way the AAP government in Delhi and Jung were in perennial conflict mode over issues of governance.
With less than a week left for campaigning to end in Punjab and Goa for the February 4 assembly elections, the 45-year-old AAP leader said he was sure the party would take power in both the states.
“We will have a clean sweep” in the battle for the 117-seat Punjab assembly, he said. “It will be like a Delhi verdict.”
The AAP swept 67 of the 70 seats in Delhi in February 2015, delivering the first electoral rout to Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he became the Gujarat Chief Minister in 2001.
According to Sisodia, the AAP’s achievements in the education and health sectors, and the various steps it had taken for the trading community in Delhi, were enormously helping the party in Punjab.
He accused the Akali Dal and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological parent, of telling people in Punjab’s rural areas to vote for the Congress if they were unhappy with the Akali-BJP government.
“This has backfired,” said Sisodia, who returned from Punjab recently after extensively campaigning there. “It has made people believe Kejriwal’s charge that the Akalis and the Congress are secretly allied against the AAP.”
Sisodia claimed the AAP would win the battle for the 40-seat Goa assembly too.
He said Kejriwal’s appeal was working in both Punjab and Goa, and the ruling BJP had been weakened in Goa. “People in Goa are looking for a new hope. That hope is AAP.”
Sisodia said it was part of the AAP’s political strategy to name former bureaucrat Elvis Gomes as the chief ministerial candidate in Goa but name none in Punjab.
He said it was sad Modi did not accept his party’s request to have “a healthy competition” between the central and Delhi governments in the areas of Digital India, Clean India and Skill Development.
“The BJP,” he said, “does not have new ideas. They only believe in politics of gimmicks. This can’t work in the long run.”
(Ashish Mishra and M.R. Narayan Swamy can be reached on email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org)