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'We want this system to go, we want to bring in a new system'

Last updated on: October 31, 2012 16:58 IST

'We alone can't change the country, we should do it together'

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi

Activist Arvind Kejriwal, in the second part of his interview with Sheela Bhatt, discusses how democracy has been replaced by oligarchy, the commonality of interests between the Congress and BJP, and how his political party will be different.

Read the first part of his interview here

Activist YP Singh's major charge against you is about "selective targeting". Somewhere people think you are calculative about whom you expose and how. In Gadkari's case, you selected a softer issue...

You are talking about Narendra Modi, Sharad Pawar and Gadkari. Let me answer all three. You keep asking me about Gujarat but you are not asking me why I have not gone to Tamil Nadu? Kerala? Madhya Pradesh? You are asking me only about Gujarat.

We had decided that issues are national in character and it ought to be taken at the national level.

Lately, we have changed our strategy slightly. First, we targeted 15 ministers. Then, the coal scam broke out. We presented it in a manner showing that both the parties are involved. We gheraoed the houses of (Chhattisgarh Chief Minister) Raman Singh, (Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister) Shivraj Singh Chauhan and, in New Delhi, we gheraoed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi and Gadkari. It is wrong to say we are selective.

If anyone is saying that we have some deal with Sharad Pawar, then there can't be anything more hilarious than that. YP Singh made allegations that we didn't present material on Pawar. On May 25, when we presented evidence against 15 ministers, Pawar's name was there in our list. We made public all the material that was provided by YP Singh.

I sat on a fast demanding a special investigation team against 15 ministers including Sharad Pawar. How can you say we have been selective? And, if we can't do it, why is YP Singh not doing it? It appeared that the press conference was more against me than against Pawar. And the timing was also suspect.

The day we did a press conference against Nitin Gadkari the same evening someone tried to divert attention from Gadkari. You are claiming that the charge against Gadkari was small. I think it was very serious. According to me the charge against Gadkari is much bigger than (against) Robert Vadra who got some favours from DLF.

Vadra got land at a cheap price. The land was less than 100 acres. Here, Nitin Gadkari got huge tract of land at throwaway price, he took away farmers' land, took water of farmers who were on the verge of committing suicide. I think it is far more serious than you think. 

In Vadra, Salman Khurshid and Gadkari's case what did we do? We initiated the process. What we presented before the country was the tip of the iceberg. After that the media jumped in, after that people jumped in.

We started the Robert Vadra story. After two-three days every single channel has been doing one-hour special on it and bringing out much more evidence than what we had presented. After the Vadra story Khap panchayats came forward to give us more evidence.

We presented the Khurshid story but the entire media came forward to give more evidence.

In the case of Nitin Gadkari we may have given "chillar" evidence but the entire media is writing against him. That was our purpose.

We, alone, can't change the country. We should do it together. We have set that process in motion.

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Image: Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal


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'We will have to fight a second freedom struggle to get rid of Congress'

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You are about to launch a new party. Your aim is to demolish two well-established and well-entrenched parties in the country. One is more than a century old and the other is the so-called voice of Hindus in Indian politics. It's a tall order. There are people who govern the country and they take a holistic view of running the country. They can ask you at the outset if you are a believer in democracy at all?

It depends on what you call democracy. I agree, the Congress got us freedom from the British. But, today the Congress has brought the country to such a level that the country wants freedom from the Congress. We will have to fight a second freedom struggle to get rid of the Congress.

When we got independence Gandhiji had recommended disbandment of the Congress. They didn't listen to him. But, I am very happy that the Sonia Gandhi, P Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid, Manish Tiwari, Rahul Gandhi and Robert Vadra types will collectively fulfill the dream of Gandhi. They are going to finish the Congress very soon. 

I am an ordinary man. You are talking big things. In your opinion India may be a democracy. Those who run this country, as you call them, are giving a lot of pain to the common people of India. They are not running the country. They are breaking this country. When you are running the country it means you work for the poor people. It doesn't mean you siphon off money of disabled people. It does not mean you allot public property like coal for free to rich people.

We, too, communicate with the aam aadmi. I think the common folk of India want you to fight against the flaws in the system. But you want to destroy the system itself. How can you construct by destroying something?

Yes, we want this system to go. Abhi aur kuch barbad hona baki hai is desh main? (Do you think there is anything left in this country to destroy?). What you call "the system" that is running this country is actually running in the eyes of those people who are exploiting this system for their personal benefit. Is system ko jad se ukhad kar phenk dena chahiye (We should pluck this system from its roots and throw it away). We should bring in a new system.

What kind of message percolates down below given mob psychology, one is never sure. What you say can bring in mobocracy.

It's an individual way of looking at things. What we call movement you call it mobocracy, what we call people's demand you call it sheep-mentality.

Do you believe in democracy?

Of course! But, today, what is going on is not democracy, it is oligarchy.

We don't need 543 seats in Parliament. It's run by some 18 heads of political parties.

We should keep just one chair where 206 should be written and Sonia Gandhi should sit on it. Kisiki himmat hai jo uske khilaf jaye? (Is any Congressmen brave enough to go against her?) They do what she decides.

There should be only one chair in the Lok Sabha for 115 BJP members. The same way for other parties. All members of Parliament go by their party's stand. In fact, this democracy is run by just three to four people. If they get together they can silence all other parties.

Is this democracy in your eyes?

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'Difference of opinion between Anna and us is a serious one'

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Representative democracy...

The representatives of people become uncrowned kings and queens once they get into Parliament. The truth of India is that if your son-in-law gets caught doing wrong things, he cannot be investigated. MPs are concentrating all kind of powers in themselves and they are no more answerable for their action or lack of it.

We want more and more people's participation in making laws. Where is the people's participation in the affairs of New Delhi?

Don't you think your efforts to form a new party are not going smooth? Your mentor Anna Hazare has left you. Lots of other people have also deserted you. You want to replace the system. You are aiming so high. But, you have not been able to retain your own team.

Nothing is ever smooth in life, specially such a political struggle can never be smooth.

There can be differences of opinion, too. The difference of opinion between us and Anna is a serious one. Annaji thought entering directly into the political arena makes one dirty and we thought that without directly entering the political battlefield we cannot bring about change.

The system has to be changed from many different directions. There cannot be just one strategy for it. Every one of us is doing our bit. I can't say what you are doing is wrong and I am doing is right. We are putting pressure on the system from outside. Prashant Bhushan is fighting through the courts. You are doing through rediff.com. All these efforts are going to change the country.

What's your road map to change the system?

Basically to get real democracy in the country. I don't know what will happen tomorrow. I don't know what will happen next month. On November 26 we are going to register the party.

And then?

When anyone says that we will enter politics, the next question from you will come about the party and then about elections. Then, you will ask me will you stand for Delhi assembly election? Right?

For us politics is not election. For us democracy is not election. For us what we are doing every day, what we are doing NOW, is democracy. This is democracy!

If the people of Delhi are agitated over the increased tariff of power then what is the BJP doing about it? Where are the Congress workers? Why are they not shouting on the streets? Why are they not standing with the people?

We are with the people. There is a complete vacuum. In the last three years the BJP has not asked any relevant question on the power situation in assembly or in Parliament. Why? They have been doing show-off. They are just acting. The BJP is mixed up with the private companies (distributors of power in New Delhi). The Congress people, too, are toeing the companies' interests.

Chief Minister Sheila Dixit's political secretary Pawan Khera has sued you. What is the proof that Dixit was the "agent" of a discom company? You used the word dalal against her.

I will give you the proof. On April 28, 2010, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission prepared an order saying that the price of electricity should be reduced by 23 per cent in Delhi. The order was to be executed on May 5, 2010. Sheila Dixit ordered the officers, illegally, on May 4 to not issue that particular order that would have given consumers a relief of 23 pc.

Why did she give such an instruction? What was her role behind such an anti-people order? As the order got scuttled the matter went to the Delhi high court. The high court snubbed Sheila Dixit for her decision of May 4 to not allow the execution of the order. 

Unfortunately, by the time the legal procedure happened the chief of DRC got changed. The new chief was loyal to her and to the private company's business interests. He passed such orders that the final effect meant, almost, 100 pc increases in power tariff.

What went wrong in the company's balance sheet in just 18 months? Why were they being favoured? By the DRC's own order the power tariff was to be decreased by 23 pc, why was it suddenly being increased by 100 pc?

What more proof do you need to prove that she is an agent of these companies? I can provide you many more proofs on the issue to prove my charge.

It seems clear that the Congress and BJP have covertly joined hands to deal with your movement first. You are their common enemy.

(Interrupts) I am happy that you are saying this. I am very happy that the message has gone across, that behind the veil both these parties have struck a deal.

Our aim has succeeded.

I don't have any evidence of it but...

But, the perception has developed.

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Image: Arvind Kejriwal interacts with Anna Hazare before they parted ways
Photographs: Reuters

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'Parties are in collusion with each other, no one in Opposition'

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How ill you handle the combined might of two mainstream parties?

The people will handle it. It's not my personal fight. We are just leaders. But, we don't have a personal stake. We don't want to come to power.

Our politics is not aimed at coming to power. Our politics is to prepare the people of this country for a change of system. When people will stand up for change the next system will come through that process. The people themselves will decide what kind of replacement they want.

This journey is very important for us. On October 2, when we announced the party, we said that our politics begins today. We are not waiting for 2014 or 2013 when the elections will be held. We announced then that we will challenge the politics of the established parties from tomorrow itself. We are not waiting for the electoral battles.

Do you have the wherewithal to fight and survive in the midst of well-established political parties?

It's not about my wherewithal. It's about the country's wherewithal. Whether I survive or not this fight will go on.

Do you introspect?

Naturally, without it nothing can move.

How do you find yourself?

There are many weaknesses.

Like?

As I have said before, our biggest weakness is that we didn't form the organisation in the initial stage of the movement. We should have done it immediately after August 2011. I am not strong in terms of organisational support system. I don't have building structures etc. We have formed a team which is working on it.

Are you satisfied with the response of the people?

In some areas we could have done things differently. But, at the broader level our movement has not done badly.

What's your agenda as of today?

The idea is to expose the entire political establishment before the people of this country. We want to tell them that how these political parties are in collusion with each other. They give contracts to each other. They have joint businesses. No one is in opposition, really. They are part of the same ruling club and they protect each other.

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The people of this country are very scared of people in power. The idea is to take the fear out of their hearts and prepare the people to throw out the current system and have a new system.


Image: Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj
Photographs: Reuters
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'We were 100 pc confident that channels will black out Vadra news'

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Since many years somehow Indian voters have got clarity about what the Congress and BJP stand for. But one is not having any clarity about your proposed party.

Theek hai! Whoever likes the Congress and BJP they can vote for them. Hum toh vote maangne nahi jaayenge (we are not going to ask for votes). Why should we ask for votes? We don't want to come to power! We will openly say that whoever likes the BJP should vote for the BJP and whoever finds that their future is secured in the hands of the Congress should vote for the Congress.

If they find all parties are similar, then for the first time this country has the option to change the system. Only if you find your future in our party, only then vote for us. Else, don't vote for us, we don't want votes. We want the people to see their future in our movement.

Will you find clean candidates whose honesty you can vouch for?

Do you think in a country of 1.21 billion it is difficult to find 543 honest people? I think the people of this country are very good. They are victims of a very ugly system. Wherever they have migrated they have done wonders but in their own country they could not bring about change because our system is so degenerated. The system of our country has ruined the people of India.

If we have the right kind of system India can do very well. The issue is not about having the right kind of people as candidates, it's about the right kind of system within the party. If someone is found corrupt, then the party should have a system to show him/her the door. The system should be in place to get rid of him, and not to protect the corrupt guy.

When Gadkari, Raman Singh or Yeddyurappa comes under a cloud the BJP stands up to protect them, when Kalmadi is found doing wrong things Digivijaya Singh stands up to protect him.

Our party should not have such an attitude. If someone faces serious allegations he should be subjected to an enquiry and the system should be there to throw him out if he is found guilty.

Did you have any apprehensions when you announced the allegations against Robert Vadra in your press conference?

We didn't expect that the media would pick it up. We were most confident that the Vadra scam will not be published and it will not be telecast. We were totally surprised.

We were 100 pc confident that TV channels will completely black out the news! We got a pleasant surprise. I really don't know why the Indian media gave coverage to the Vadra scam.

It is said that you are linked to Zee TV in some way so you are not speaking against the sting operation where Zee TV is involved.

Zee TV is so much against us. It's absolutely not true that I have any connection with the owners of Zee TV.

The corruption by the media of the media is a subject that should be handled separately. We will do it at an appropriate time!

It's not about one channel. There are many good people, but there are black sheep, too. Currently, we are not taking up any issues concerning the media. We will do it at the right time. 

You are forming a political party while fighting against corruption. But, there is life beyond corruption. There is India to be handled beyond such a movement. There are issues like casteism, reservations, communal relationship, India-Pakistan relations, strategic issues of India etc... Are these issues not equally important?

They are important. Our party is still to be born. You are asking difficult questions to a child who is yet to be born. You will get answers in due course. We have set up lots of committees. They are thinking over it. They will prepare the first draft. Those drafts will be put up in public domain for discussion.

As I said our outfit will not be "a party". It will continue to be a people's movement.

What we have done in the last 15-20 days since announcing the launch of the party, we will continue doing like this. Was it like a party or a movement? We will be like this only.

Are you confident of the success of your new party?

I am confident of the bright future of India. I am nobody. It's not about my success. My party is not important. The party should vanish once we have proper swaraj in this country. 

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Image: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra


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