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'Rahul is a national bojh, Modi's model is Mr India'

May 06, 2014 10:10 IST

'Rahul is a national bojh, Modi's model is Mr India'

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Swarupa Dutt/Rediff.com in Amethi

'If you remove the Gandhi tag behind his name, Rahul is not fit to become even a clerk anywhere.'

'What Gujarat model? It's a model that allows you to sell chai for Rs 5 and land for Rs 1.'

'The day I think AAP becomes Arvind Kejriwal's party I will leave it.'

Dr Vishwas Kumar Sharma's Web site introduces him with the grandiose line, 'Indian by blood, poet by choice and a motivator by God's grace'. He is also the Aam Aadmi Party's candidate from Amethi.

It is a difficult seat -- traditionally a Congress bastion since 1967 -- except when it voted for the Janata Party (1977) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (1996 and 1998) -- but Kumar Vishwas as he is better known, is confident.

The only reason the national and international media is camping in Amethi is because of him, he says, NOT Rahul Gandhi, the incumbent MP. He dismisses the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Smriti Irani as a "bechari", forced to contest the polls.

There is little doubt that Vishwas and the AAP have pulled out all stops in Amethi. He has bought a house and an office and moved with his family to Rahul's bastion, in the hope that the 'outsider' tag can be brushed aside.

He says he has established a connect with the people by speaking in Avadhi, eating and sleeping and even bathing in their homes, since he has to hit the campaign trail early morning, every morning.

"Rahul has done it too," he concedes but only when there is media coverage. "All the Gandhis put together have not spent as much time has I have," he declares.

That it is a prestige seat is apparent: AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and senior leader Manish Sisodia have also campaigned for him.

After a breakfast of dal-roti, his volunteers from New Delhi and Mumbai leave for their door-to-door campaign trail (after some vociferous arguments among themselves on the merits of the ghunghat).

The house is near empty and Vishwas who is slumming it out after just four hours of sleep the night before, speaks to Swarupa Dutt/Rediff.com, while he gets a massage, a champi (head massage) and his hair coloured.

India's 'most-read poet' keeps the 'I' in every answer.

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Image: Kumar Vishwas gets a head massage in Amethi.
Photographs: Reuben NV/Rediff.com

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'Rahul will lose to me by a margin of 1 lakh votes'

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Swarupa Dutt/Rediff.com

People in Amethi are angry with Rahul Gandhi, but say they will still vote for him.

The Congress is stirring fear in the minds of the people in Amethi. I have been attacked three to four times, my people have been attacked. Congress goons have overtaken this place and people are scared of speaking the truth.

This is a very tough seat. Rahul Gandhi has been the sitting MP for two terms. Are you looking at victory or at decreasing the margin?

When we were fighting the assembly election in Delhi against (the then chief minister) Sheila Dikshit, nobody thought it was possible to defeat her, but we did. It is the same situation here.

If you remove the Gandhi tag behind his name, he is not fit to become even a clerk anywhere. You wouldn't even hire him as a Web master in your company, Rediff.com

It is shameful that people will vote him because he is a Gandhi.

Why do we call his constituency a fort, a bastion? What Rahul Gandhi is, if he was not Rajiv Gandhi's son? What Priyanka Vodra (sic)is ? She calls herself Priyanka Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi... She is a married woman!

Who am I? I am a poor schoolteacher's son. My father could not afford to pay my fees he told me to educate myself. I did. I went to 19 countries; crores of people have downloaded my poetry.

If I have paid income tax worth lakhs of rupees, if I am a world renowned poet, if I am contesting the elections from here, I did it on my own, I worked for it.

How serious a threat is the BJP candidate Smriti Irani?

Smriti Irani had said many times she does not want to contest the elections from here. Bechari (the poor thing) was forced into it.

The BJP has never fought elections from here; it is not a factor in Amethi at all. Their cadre is not here. It is like this, aapka bachcha science nahin padhna chahta hai (your child does not want to study science), and you want him to study it, will he pass or fail?

So, you think neither Rahul nor Smriti will win, you will.

Of the 1,256 gram sabhas here, I have been to 1,200. I have spent 40 nights in villages. I have been here for four months -- that is more that the number of days that Rahul, Sonia, Priyanka -- put together have spent here.

Vote share?

Rahul will lose to me by a vote margin of one lakh (100,000) votes.

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Image: Rahul Gandhi with his sister Priyanka during a road show in Amethi.


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'Will you call Raj Babbar a rapist for his portrayal in Insaaf ka Tarazoo? If yes, I'm guilty of racism'

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Swarupa Dutt/Rediff.com

But people in Amethi have barely heard about AAP, let alone you.

The media is biased. Journalists have a middle-class mentality. They think Rahul is a big person just because he speaks good English. Even salesmen speak good English. Even I speak and write good English.

When Rahul Gandhi gave that interview to a television channel, there were two prompters sitting in the studio -- Jairam Ramesh and Priyanka Gandhi. Was the public told about it?

He agreed to the interview on the condition that he wouldn't be asked questions on Robert Vadra, Kumar Vishwas and Amethi.

When I gave an interview, I had to answer questions from 28 journalists for 1 hour, 34 minutes, live.

When the same channel interviewed Narendra Modi, they didn't have the guts to ask him, 'Aapke patni ka status kya hain? Jashodhaben ka saath aapka status kya hain? (What is your marital status? What is your relationship with Jashodaben (his wife)?

In an interview to another channel, Rahul was asked, 'What food do you like? What do you do in your free time?' What is this? Is this an interview to a Grihshobha (a women's magazine)?

Five things that you will do for Amethi if you win?

I will ensure I am always accessible. How? By staying in Amethi. I've bought this house, my (telephone) number is with everyone, anyone can call me.

I will ensure there are no power brokers. And, of course, the rest... electricity, health, education, roads, water. So, that's six things, not five.

How are you going to put all that to work? Replicating the Gujarat model of development?

What Gujarat model? The Gujarat model is a Mr India, which is heard about, but not seen. He is an old friend of mine -- Mr Modi has said in a show that yes, I know Kumar.

I told him I want to come and see your model, he said 'No, don't, aapko marenge, aapko pitenge (People will beat you up). If your model is good, why can't we see it?

The Gujarat model is a model of crony capitalism. It is a model that allows you to sell chai for Rs 5 and land for Rs 1.

At this point, he asks the man massaging his head, "Tu kyun ruk gaya, tu apna kaam karta reh. (Why have you stopped, continue)"

Your campaign has been intensive here, but you are generally in the news for stirring up unnecessary controversies and less for anything constructive. Is that the way you keep your candidature alive?

Absolutely not. People are used to the politics of comfort. In Parliament, they will shout and scream at each other on the floor. And then in the central hall of Parliament, the same two people who were screaming at each other, will say, 'Hi Ravi, so you are having coffee without sugar?'

Even I can stay in that comfort zone. I too can roam around in a red beacon car... but I don't want politics like this. I follow in the footsteps of Nazrul Islam (the national poet of Bangladesh) and (Mahatma) Gandhi.

And what controversies are you talking about?

You referred to Malayalee nurses as a 'kaali peeli' sister.

Will you call Raj Babbar a rapist for his portrayal in Insaaf ka Tarazoo? If yes, I am guilty of racism. People who have criticised me for that comments have never attended a kavi sammelan. Every poet makes quips like these at kavi sammelans.

I will leave public life if it is proved that my intent was wrong, or I meant to hurt a community's feelings.

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Image: AAP's Kumar Vishwas sits comfortably in his house after getting his hair coloured
Photographs: Reuben NV/Rediff.com

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'Congress is pseudo secular, BJP is pseudo nationalist'

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Swarupa Dutt/Rediff.com

And then you said Priyanka had called a man who had plans to kill you, to her office, to 'discuss it'. Do you really believe that? But it got you publicity.

OK, tell me, why was Priyanka so willing to talk to that man? He is an ordinary party worker. Why didn't she report the matter to the police? Why didn't the police file an FIR?

Finally, after we protested for seven hours, the police wrote a letter to her saying, 'Mananiya Priyankaji (Respected Priyanka)'? There is a protocol about who you call mananiya. See, that is the servile attitude of these people.

A cop who is being paid a salary because I pay income tax tells me, 'Aapbehuda baatein mat kariye (Don't be absurd). Me behuda?

I have spent 17 years teaching at a university, I have a PhD in communications, my poetry is read in 19 countries, I am responsible for rekindling an awareness about Hindi among the youth... you are calling me behuda! (pauses to get back his breath)

And a woman, who is married to a land thief (Robert Vadra who is accused of fraudulent land deals in Haryana and Rajasthan),who is a criminal in the eyes of this nation, a woman whose husband is getting Special Protection Group protection from the tax I pay, he (the police officer) is calling her mananiya Priyanka Gandhiji!

You have been criticised by people in your own party like Mallika Sarabhai.

Anyone can pay Rs 10 and become a member, I don't know even know who she is.

If you had to choose between the Congress and the BJP forming a government at the Centre, who will it be?

You are asking me a question like, how would I like to die -- by consuming poison or will I jump in front of the rail tracks. They are the same.

One is pseudo secular, one is pseudo nationalist, they are both corrupt, both believe in crony capitalism.

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Image: A school girl walks past a wall with graffiti depicting Indian politics ahead of the general election.
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

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'Nobody dictates to Kumar Vishwas. Not Arvind Kejriwal, not anyone'

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Swarupa Dutt/Rediff.com

There was magic in the air during the Delhi assembly elections last year. It is not apparent here.

There is no 3G here, just 2G. Arre, telecom ghotala mein itna paisa khaya, ek tower toh laga lete (They have made so much money in the 2G scam, they could have erected a transmission tower).

You are saying public sentiment for the AAP in Delhi was a media creation and the result of social media?

The Internet speed is very slow here, but the media is still camped in large numbers.

Why do you think Amethi is getting so much coverage? Because of Dr Kumar Vishwas. They haven't come here because of Rahul or Mrs Priyanka Vadra.

I want the world and the country to know that Rahul Gandhi is a national bojh (burden). Nobody wanted to contest against him.

The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have weak candidates in the fray. The BJP kept saying 'shehzada, shehzada', but nobody, neither Modi, nor Rajnath Singh, said I will fight him in Amethi.

So, a poor master's son, a poet, said, 'Rahul Gandhi, I'm coming to Amethi and we will give you a tough fight.'

Arvind Kejriwal is the only national face of the AAP. Isn't it a one-man party?

Arvind Kejriwal is a colleague, a friend. If it is a one-man show, why are journalists of the country facing towards Amethi? The party is not Kejriwal's, it is mine, it is everyone's.

The day I think it becomes Kejriwal's party, I will leave it.

But there are rumours that he is dictatorial. Where do you see yourself in the party?

Nobody dictates to Kumar Vishwas. Not Arvind Kejriwal, not anyone.

I am a worker in the party, nothing else.

Your views on homosexuality and Article 377.

(Gets testy, sounds irritated) The party has no stand. In the Lok Sabha there are other concerns that should be spoken of -- potable water, education, pension. Where does gay sex fit into all this?

It is a life and death situation for those people who go on rallies in Mumbai and Delhi. Our party is working for a corruption-free India and an India that has social equality. I haven't had the time to think about all this.


Image: AAP's Kumar Vishwas, Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia during a rally
Photographs: Courtesy: AAP/Facebook

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