Senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh says that while joining, he had no idea that the India Against Corruption campaign would turn into a massive movement. In an interview with THE WEEK, he says the Aam Aadmi Party has negotiated the challenges posed by a hostile Union government to present a model of governance that is being widely discussed. Excerpts from the interview:
Q\ How do you recollect the IAC campaign?
A\ When we left home to join the campaign, we had no idea it would turn into such a massive anti-corruption movement. When the first anshan by Anna ji took place at Jantar Mantar in April 2011, we were trying to gather around 3,000 people, but before we knew it, it became 30,000, then three lakh and then three crore.
Q\ The AAP formed the government in Delhi with the help of the Congress, the same party it had opposed.
A\ We had promised that we will appoint a Jan Lokpal in Delhi. When the Congress did not cooperate, we resigned from the government.
- Ten years of Anna Andolan: Who benefited from the anti-corruption movement?
- BJP government, too, did not want the lokpal law
- IAC’s goal was to display the power of people
- RSS and BJP had a role in the campaign
- The IAC campaign has done more harm than good
- The movement failed to provide a credible alternative
Q\ The AAP has so far not tasted much success outside Delhi.
A\ That is incorrect. In Punjab, we are the main opposition. In Goa, we got more than 6 per cent votes, which is what a party requires to be recognised. In Gujarat, we have won seats in local body elections. In Uttar Pradesh, in the 2017 municipal elections, we had won 50 seats. We are establishing ourselves at the national level.
Q\ How serious a contender is the AAP in UP?
A\ In 2017, when we went there to fight municipal elections, we did not have much of an organisation. We still got 25,000 votes in Lucknow, 28,000 votes in Bulandshahr, and 10,000 votes each in Kanpur and Ghaziabad. Fifty of our councillors got elected. We have worked on our organisation. We have committees down to the block level.
Q\ How will you negotiate the politics of caste and community in UP?
A\ Did the BJP not do politics of caste and community in the assembly elections in Delhi? We said bijli [electricity], paani [water], education and health. They chanted ‘Shaheen Bagh, Shaheen Bagh’. The people rejected their campaign.
Q\ Where do you stand ideologically?
A\ Our ideology is about reducing the difficulties of the common man. You may call it socialist, secular or communist or anything else. So far, those with ideology have ruled the country, but how much they have alleviated the people’s suffering is for everyone to see. We will not pursue politics of caste and community. We will not make people fight each other.
Q\ It was felt that the AAP did not come out strongly against the perpetrators of the 2020 Delhi riots.
A\ We were the loudest, and we repeatedly said the riots were a pre-planned conspiracy of the BJP. The chief minister toured the riot-hit areas. We do not have police, so we could not take direct action.