Sheila Dikshit, the longest serving woman chief minister of Delhi shares her thoughts about present scenario of the capital with Absolute India Here are some excerpts of the interview.
Recently AAP completed five years of its formation, what would you say?
I want to see Arvind Kejriwal work. What has happened in Delhi since Kejriwal took power? Has he fulfilled those 70 promises? I distinctly remember his promises on free water and electricity. Has it happened? Roads arein the same situation. The projects, that we started are never implemented. Situation is same in Barahpullah as well.
The state government accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of not allowing them to work?
Opposition’s work is to oppose, what else will you expect from them? They do not help but oppose. Everyone knows the constitutional setup and, if you haven’t known the situation, you should not have fought the election. Why are you crying now? We worked and performed under the same condition. People didn’t elect you for complain, but to find the solution for their problems and better a governance.
The pollution level has shot up suddenly and even Supreme Court call the capital “Gas Chamber.” What did you do to make capital pollution free?
We brought the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), which is considered to be cleaner fuel. We also planted lakhs of trees in the city and started many campaigns like ‘Make Delhi Greener and Cleaner’, “My Delhi, I care.” We never stopped anyone from burning crackers; however, we did say “I would not like to burn cracker or burn less cracker.” We campaigned for it and requested citizens. We also requested the Union government that no public transport should allow passing through the capital. Those files, unfortunately still lying somewhere, we paid money to build that setup, unfortunately, that was never concluded.
Stubble Burning – How did you approach?
Due to its geographical condition, Delhi suffers. The city has a complicated setup. But, the national capital deserves special attention – The Prime Minister and President of the country live here and their idea of Delhi is the idea of India, that’s why we call Delhi Mini India.
What’s Lieutenant Governor’s role in Delhi administration and how did you deal with that?
Lieutenant Governor is the representative of the national capital, an important constitutional body that has a complete authority over land and police of the city. Eventually, the Lieutenant Governor is a figure who signs every paper to make it call “Legal Document.” It’s nothing unusual, like the union cabinet sends the documents to the President of the country, be it passing the bill or forming the ordinance. Like the way central government requires the nod from the government, the Delhi government needs from the Lieutenant governor.
The longest chief ministers of Delhi, party chief ministerial candidate for the Uttar Pradesh in 2017. What next; are you going to retire?
I’m not seeking anything from anyone. I had a good political career – of being the 16-year chief minister of the national capital and worked under late Rajiv Gandhi. However, if given any responsibility by the party or I could be helpful for Congress; I would definitely go for it.
Soon, Congress president Rahul Gandhi would be elevated as the party president?
I think that party as a whole want this to happen. I had a very strong feeling that once responsibility will come under his shoulder, he will be change kind of leader. I’m very confident about his leadership.
But, he seems more to trusting in young leaders. Even, in Gujarat election – Vaghela is out and senior leader hailing from Gujarat like Ahmed Patel is nowhere. Old leaders have been sidelined by Rahul.
These things get evolved; everyone is there to help him. To divide everything into young and old is not justified. Time has come when one generation should pass its legacy and it should be accepted gracefully.
Once ruling the capital and now Congress did not have a single MLA in the assembly. How confident are you with your party performance in 2019?
Politics is all about game-changing. Things are too early to guess about 2019, but, we are confident that we would improve and perform better. When I was elected as the chief minister of the state- we were not in power in the central government. We represent no Lok Sabha seats. But, later we won two Lok Sabha elections. Things should never be taken for granted in the electoral politics.
On the recent NCRB reports that crime against women was the highest in Delhi, What you have to say about?
The rise in the number and NCRB reports clearly shows the failure of the state government to achieve over its talk on crime against women. Nirbhaya was a very serious affair. At least, all of us have spoken against it. Nothing has happened after that. The city came to the streets and people raised voices against it. Was it just a moment that you felt hurt and now forgotten about it? If one serious step would have taken by this government on women safety, I
would have been the happiest person that once action brought in peace. Whom do you expect to do it – Society, Police?
I think it’s very shameful for all of us, that women don’t feel safe in the national capital. It’s very disappointing.