Delhi MP from East Delhi and former cricketer Gautam Gambhir has said he does not believe in criticising Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal all the time and that the BJP needs to tell people what their vision for Delhi is.
Speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange, Gambhir, who won the East Delhi seat in 2019 on a BJP ticket, said his party needs to be in touch with people when asked whether the Delhi BJP’s messaging was missing the mark.
“When it comes to the BJP in Delhi, if an MP does well, the counterpart shouldn’t feel insecure. Ultimately, it’s not about those seven MPs, the MCD, the BJP versus AAP or about between us and them. It is about saving Delhi. I don’t believe that you need to criticise Kejriwal every morning and evening. People accepted him twice. What is our vision for the people of Delhi? Social media politics won’t take us anywhere. How much work we do on the ground is how we create the narrative. There’s only one way to go to the people and show them the work you’ve done. Directly be in touch with them,” he said.
Delhi may soon go into election mode again with the delimitation exercise for the assembly polls nearly over. The MCD polls, originally scheduled for May, were postponed after the three municipal corporations were reunified. AAP had alleged that BJP delayed the polls because it was scared of a loss. BJP has been in power in MCD for the past 15 years.
Asked about the party’s challenges in MCD, Gambhir said, “The first challenge is to change the narrative that the MCD doesn’t do anything. This perception has been created by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Yet MCD has worked quite a lot. Waste segregation has been privatised, the landfill issue is being addressed with the Lieutenant Governor getting involved, the new MCD schools are much better. Of course, the 15 years of anti-incumbency will be a huge challenge… We need to come out in a better way and tell people what good has been done by the MCD and the seven BJP MPs. Unfortunately, in Delhi, we are not able to create that narrative for whatever reason. The MCD elections are not going to be easy and I accept that. We need to go on the ground and probably tell people what has happened. That is the only way we can create that narrative.”
Gambhir also spoke about his attack on Kejriwal, where he had tweeted “nadaan parindey, ghar aaja” in reference to Delhi Chief Minister’s campaign in other states. Asked if this would also apply to him since he has commitments with regards to the Lucknow Super Giants cricket team, the Legends League Cricket as well as commentary, Gambhir said, “I have a 50-day contract with Star for a year. Last year, IPL was conducted in a bubble, so I couldn’t come out of it. This year, I will spend most of my time in Delhi, try and work as much as I can. I can’t use my MPLAD fund for road repair work, open community kitchens or libraries. For that, if I have to work 100 days outside Delhi and raise the money to work in my constituency, there’s nothing wrong. I attack Kejriwal because he has not been able to fulfil the promises he has made to the people of Delhi. I have nothing personal against him. My promise of making a world-class stadium in Delhi has been fulfilled.”
Gambhir also spoke about personality cults in politics. Asked if he could be that face for Delhi, he said, “Don’t mention my name. I don’t wish to be a brand. Delhi needs just one face — honesty — and no individual face. Indian politics is now about the personality cult. We need to have a face against Kejriwal who is honest, accountable, responsible and more importantly, ready to face criticism. If the BJP wins Delhi, it should not lie that it can transform Delhi into London, Paris or New York. When I was growing up, I used to drink groundwater. Women felt safe and children could freely play outside. We need these basic things. This city needs better infrastructure because its population is increasing. I’m shocked and cannot accept the fact that even after the Delta wave, not a single hospital has been built in Delhi. Yet you are spending the taxpayer’s money on advertisements. I think there should be a rule going forward in Indian politics that if you want to advertise, you need to use party funds. Forget the AAP, the Supreme Court should rule that if any political party wants to advertise, the publicity budget should come from the party fund. Honesty has its own price,” he said.