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I was not invited by the AAP to join them: General V K Singh

Last updated on: March 27, 2014 08:35 IST

'This election will be about winning hearts of the people'

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Upasana Pandey in New Delhi

In less than two years after he retired as the chief of the Indian Army, General VK Singh is back on the battle-field again. He is “focused on the task at hand” of convincing people of Ghaziabad to vote for “an alternative and making them understand the `why’ of it”.

Singh is in hectic campaign mode as he goes all out to win the confidence of people of Ghaziabad, who chose Bharatiya Janata Partychief Rajnath Singh in the 2009 elections to represent them. He spoke with rediff.com about his priorities and how he aims to “convince people to see beyond the politics of caste, religion and look at national level issues.”

Excerpts from the interview:

With your background from the forces, what is your strategy to contest this election? If we could use the defence parlance, is it offensive or defensive? And how do you view your opponents?

No defensive strategy ever won any battle. This is a battle to win the hearts of people and I am focusing on the task at hand of convincing people to vote for an alternative and why they should do it. I am not concerned about my opponents from any party; they are all on equal footing for me.

Elections in Uttar Pradesh are always around the caste/religion card which is played up by all political parties, what is your take on this?

I have my task cut out for me; to make people understand why they need to look beyond the issues of caste and religion and recognise what is good for their own and the country’s future. People are no fools today and when they see someone like me who has a secular background (as I come from the army) and they know I am genuine, they will be convinced.

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Image: General VK Singh campaigns in Ghaziabad
Photographs: General VK Singh's Facebook page

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'I am used to getting results delivered'

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Do you think you are setting precedence for your successors in the armed forces to join active politics by contesting elections?

 I think there has been precedence to this. Field Marshal Cariappa also contested once from a southern Mumbai -- then Bombay -- Lok Sabha constituency sometime in 1971. All the political parties got together to get him defeated. I do believe that one particular party is trying its best to ensure I am defeated, but I am confident they will not succeed.

When they appoint former chief of armed forces as governors, it is also about politicking. So nobody should talk about me setting precedence on this; these are all baseless issues raised by frustrated people.

What are the key issues that you are focusing on in your campaign?

In Ghaziabad, one of the major areas of concern is National Highway 24 which needs to be widened, for decongesting the traffic and there is poor or no public transport system. There are also old and dysfunctional sewerage system, apart from poor water and electricity supply to many areas.

There is a need for taking a holistic and integrated look at solutions for the National Capital Region which includes Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gurgaon and Noida.

Ghaziabad has been notorious for poor law and order and there is a need for effective policing and improving the overall image of the city. There has also been an exodus of industrial houses from Ghaziabad, which also needs to be reversed.

How are you applying your experience in your campaign? And what is the role you see for yourself post election?

It is for the party to assign roles. Let us wait and see how things go post elections. I see myself as someone who will ensure cleaner and national interest-based politics. I am someone who plans and looks ahead and am used to getting results delivered. I am confident that we will deliver the results in this election.

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Image: Singh with BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi
Photographs: General VK Singh's Facebook page

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'The AAP has no vision or policy for the country'

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Do you believe there is a ‘Modi wave’ which will benefit BJP candidates across the country?

I don’t know about this ‘wave’. I think this election will be about winning hearts of the people of this country.

You were earlier associated with Anna Hazare’s movement, why did you decide to move away from him and join the BJP?

After we got the Lokpal Bill passed, I told Annaji that I would move laterally and he gave me a go ahead. I also told him that whenever there would be any major issue, I would support him. There was tremendous pressure on me to contest, and to be effective I needed to join a political party. So I chose the BJP which I believe is the only party which has a national philosophy.

You have been associated with Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal as a member of Anna’s movement, what do you think of the AAP government’s performance in Delhi and why didn’t you chose the AAP to contest elections?

The AAP has no vision or policy for the country, it is floundering. It does not have any vision on economic growth for the nation.  They only believe in agitation which cannot be an answer for everything. I was not invited by the AAP to join them. I was never a part of them and I even dissuaded them from forming a party.

In the last General Elections, your predecessor and BJP chief Rajnath Singh won with a margin of over 90,000 votes over the Congress candidate; how do you think you will fare?

I don’t know about that but I believe that the BJP will fare well in this election, and I am focused on achieving results and I believe that will happen.


Image: Singh with Anna Hazare after the Lokpal Bill was passed
Photographs: Photo courtesy: jantantramorcha

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