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The former cop who will challenge Shashi Tharoor

March 13, 2014 13:06 IST

'Shashi Tharoor has publicised whatever little he has done, far more than what he has actually done. Some of the bigger promises he made could never be implemented.'

Ajit Joy, a former police officer and Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Thiruvananthapuram, tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier that he is a more attractive candidate in his constituency than sitting MP Tharoor.

Ajit Joy, left, the Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Thiruvananthapuram, represented by Congress Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor, retired from the Indian Police Service in 2004 after serving for 11 years.

From 2005 to 2013, he worked at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

During the Delhi assembly elections, Joy left his UN assignment and joined AAP to work as a volunteer in the Greater Kailash constituency and the legal cell.

Veteran O Rajagopal is the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Thiruvananthapuram.

Ajit Joy spoke to Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier at AAP's sparsely furnished tiny office in Thiruvanathapuram.

Why did you resign your job at the United Nations to join the Aam Aadmi Party?

I was attracted to the political ideas of the Aam Aadmi Party, especially the idea of bringing the concerns of the common man to the centre of political discourse.

The party's stand against corruption, its stand on swaraj -- which means bringing power to the people and the people deciding what they want -- was appealing.

Apart from that, the struggle the party launched in Delhi and the amount of support it generated, prompted me to join the Aam Aadmi Party. I resigned from my job at the United Nations to come and join the party.

Had you been following the party from the time it was launched?

I was following it from the time the India Against Corruption movement started.

Do you consider yourself an aam aadmi?

Of course, all of us who believe and follow the Constitution of India and allow other Indians to follow what is written in the Indian Constitution in its full measure are aam aadmiS.

Those who join AAP are from the elite of society, like you...

The common man constitutes all of us. It is not necessary that he has to be poor and downtrodden to be an aam aadmi.

All the citizens of India, all like-minded people, who believe that there needs to be a change in the system and the system needs to work for the people, are aam aadmis.

Do you support the way Delhi was ruled for a short period by Arvind Kejriwal and your party?

Definitely. What (former Delhi chief minister) Arvind Kejriwal launched was a movement or struggle against the anarchy that prevails today.

But he called himself an anarchist... Can a chief minister be an anarchist?

Yes. There is nothing sacrosanct about the word anarchist. It's a method. He said he didn't mind being an anarchist for achieving something. I think it is high time we achieve that.

It's high time we broke down the system that keeps most of our people in shackles and in misery in the stranglehold of a corrupt system.

In order to break the corrupt system, if it is necessary to launch an agitation in a particular way, there is nothing wrong. I completely support what Arvind Kejriwal did in Delhi.

People in general felt they were indulging mostly in activism and not ruling the state....

What Arvind Kejriwal and the party implemented in Delhi was what the people wanted. They went around and collected opinion from all the 70 constituencies of Delhi and came out with manifestos for all the 70. What they did was what the people demanded.

If it is necessary to be an activist to implement all that, one needs to be an activist.

There is no difference between ruling and being an activist. One has to look at the final result.

There is no point in being a ruler for the sake of it -- cut off from the masses and in power for 5 years. One needs to get out, role up one's sleeves and do things.

You have been elected by the people to rule, but taking the opinion of the people in each and every decision... Is it the right way to rule?

It is an absolutely right way to rule. We are a democracy.

That is why people elect someone to rule the state and take decisions...

There are two things. One is, you are a representative government, at the same time you need to be a consultative government. In all things, you might not have got the full consent of the people.

When you are going to take important decisions, it is very good to have a referendum and take the consent of the people.

When Kejriwal says swaraj, it means people are important. Therefore, it is necessary to take their views.

The other day, when Kejriwal was detained in Gujarat, AAP members gheraoed the BJP office and it resulted in an ugly fight. Do you agree with this kind of politics?

I don't agree with the fight. We are a very peaceful party and our followers and supporters should be peace loving, and should be able to forgive and forget.

It might have been an emotional outburst following the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal. The Aam Aadmi Party has already apologised for what happened that day and has asked its members to maintain restraint.

When you have hundreds and thousands of members, it may pull in different directions, but we have to make corrective measures and see that ordinary people are not disturbed and there is no violence.

(Social activist Kisan Baburao) 'Anna' Hazare, (retired IPS officer) Kiran Bedi who were part of Indian Against Corruption, have distanced themselves from the Aam Aadmi Party...

Yes, they were never part of the Aam Aadmi Party, but we are all still united in our fight against corruption. It is a democracy and they can think differently.

Almost all the opinion polls and surveys say that people prefer (the BJP's prime ministerial candidate) Narendra Modi.

One cannot rely too much on the findings of these polls. My personal view is that the country will reject Narendra Modi as he is a very divisive person. People have very strong opinions about him.

At the end of the day, the country will come together to compromise on a more liberal democratic set-up.

You mean to say because Modi is perceived as a divisive figure and the Congress is perceived as corrupt, people will vote for AAP?

Yes, that is why we feel people will vote for the Aam Aadmi Party. We have come into the minds of the people as a political alternative, also as a very serious party wishing to make a change and a difference, and wishing to do something for the country and the people.

It was reported that you had to go through an interview process to be chosen as an AAP candidate. What was the process?

As per the Web site of the Aam Aadmi Party, anybody can apply to be a candidate.

I applied with signatures from at least 600 people from this constituency. It was sent to the selection panel that had seven people.

We were interviewed and three people were shortlisted and their names were put on social media and the party Web site so that people could comment if they had a complaint.

There was also an opinion poll taken here amongst all the members on whom they preferred. That was how I was chosen.

Thiruvananthapuram is a constituency where sitting MP Shashi Tharoor has done quite a lot. How tough will it be for you to contest from such a constituency?

Yes, Shashi Tharoor has done some amount of work and he has publicised whatever little he has done, far more than what he has actually done.

Some of the bigger promises he made could never be implemented, like the Vizhinjam project or the high court bench or some of the national highways.

The fundamental interaction between the people and government has not changed. The system continues to be the same.

Shashi Tharoor is part of that Congress set-up which has brought all the scams to this country. So, he being part of the system, would not be viewed all that well.

People are now rejecting that system. So, the clever citizens of Thiruvananthapuram will reject that system and vote for a party that will actually work for the common man.

There are posters put up by the Left attacking Shashi Tharoor about his wife's death. Would you take up a personal tragedy like that and attack him?

No, there is no question of us taking any personal issue. We would only say that the normal legal process should go on without any hindrance.

When Tharoor stood for elections, his credentials as an educated man, a literary personality who worked with the United Nations, helped him win. You are also from the civil service, you too worked with the United Nations. Like it worked for Tharoor, do you think it would work for you?

I think this is one constituency where a large number of people will look at the profile of the candidate and in that context they will definitely look at my qualifications.

If they see that I am capable, they will vote for me.

Compared to O Rajagopal and Shashi Tharoor, I am new, my party is new and we have no bad past.

So, I may be a more attractive candidate. We see that there is a silent majority here which is very favourably supporting us.

You may see a surprise here.

Shobha Warrier in Thiruvananthapuram