Being called antinational is free publicity: Kanhaiya Kumar

Interview/ Kanhaiya Kumar, Congress candidate, North East Delhi

Congress candidate from North East Delhi constituency Kanhaiya Kumar addresses a public meeting at Dilshad Garden | PTI Congress candidate from North East Delhi constituency Kanhaiya Kumar addresses a public meeting at Dilshad Garden | PTI

Q/ How do you view your chances in North East Delhi?

A/ I am not banking on chances because I have nothing to lose. When you look at my opponent, his entire campaign is based on abusing me. There is no such attack in my campaign. I am telling people that 10 years have passed, and I am standing before them as an alternative.

Q/ You come from Bihar, and your opponent is also Bihari.

A/ I am not campaigning on the basis of identity. But when he called me an outsider, I said if I am an outsider, then what are you? Modi ji was not born in Banaras. All the stalwarts were not born where they contested from—Sushma Swaraj was not born in Madhya Pradesh, Lal Krishna Advani was not born in Gujarat, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not born in Lucknow.

Q/ Would you have preferred to contest from Bihar?

A/ In politics, you cannot do things based on your personal preference. You take decisions based on the situation. Last time when I contested, I did not live in Begusarai; I was living in Delhi. I was studying here. If you go by preference, then people will say that I should not have been in politics at all.

Q/ Your rival says your entry into the fray has made people like former Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely leave the party.

A/ He had left the party earlier, too. I was not even in the Congress then. People are not leaving because of me. They have their own reasons. Then people can say that Jyotiraditya Scindia left because of me or the others who have left have done so because of me. They were in the Congress when it was in power, and they left when it wasn’t.

Q/ Your opponent talks about statements you had allegedly made while in Jawaharlal Nehru University. Does it hurt when you are called antinational?

A/ They have been saying this for eight years. The home minister says 'tukde-tukde gang'. When an RTI query was made to the ministry, they said there was no such gang. When a question was raised in Parliament, they said there was no such thing….

Hardik Patel was also called 'tukde-tukde gang'. He joined the BJP and became an MLA. The wife of their own MP has said on camera that Kanhaiya was not there; no such slogans were raised. And now, the JNU vice chancellor has also given a statement that no such thing happens in our university.

You run a fake video of 10 or 12 seconds, but the people are listening to the full 10-minute speech. Had they not made the allegations against me and put me in jail, do you think a person like me, the kind of background I come from—my father was a daily wage labourer and my mother an anganwadi worker—would have twice contested elections? Initially, I felt bad. Now I don't. I feel it is free publicity.

Q/ Does your candidature show the growing importance of Purvanchalis in Delhi politics?

A/ My party did not decide my candidature on that basis. Delhi is important. It is the national capital. I have been made a candidate so that there is a good fight.

[They say] a person from Bihar is made to contest in Delhi because of his Bihari identity and that it would be better to make him contest in Bihar itself. But our party does not decide on that basis.