Former Union Minister and Delhi state unit chief Ajay Maken has expressed complete disagreement with the idea that Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) should have an electoral tie-up to keep the BJP away. He also said that a fragmented Opposition will not work against the BJP and Congress will have to regain its space as the principal party opposed to BJP as in the past fragmented Opposition government have not survived for long.
In the interview with WION's Kartikeya Sharma, Maken also reached out his colleagues in the party. Congress is holding a grand iftaar for its potential political allies in Delhi and has chosen not to invite AAP.
WION: How do you evaluate AAP's performance in Delhi?
Ajay Maken: AAP has slipped in Delhi. Their vote percentage has gone down consistently. From the municipal elections to Rajouri Garden by-polls, AAP's vote share has decreased. Rajouri Garden was a seat which AAP had won by a huge margin. AAP was third and came behind the Congress. This happened because they have not been able to fulfill promises.
WION: Do you feel that Delhi has suffered because of AAP's national ambitions?
Ajay Maken: Delhi has suffered simply because AAP does not know how to govern. Since coming to power they have been trying to create an artificial confrontation with the BJP for political reasons. One cannot rule by confrontation. Delhi is a Union Territory and one needs to build consensus with stakeholders. Being a bureaucrat, Kejriwal should have known this but again AAP does not know what governance is. We never compromised the interest of the people.
WION: What is your view on 'one-seat-one-candidate' proposed arrangement to challenge BJP?
Ajay Maken: My opinion is that a strong Congress is required at the Centre to counter BJP-RSS. One-seat-one-candidate is a good concept, but fragmented Opposition does not work. We have seen that in the past too. You need a strong party in the Opposition as there is a political life beyond elections too.
WION: Should this proposal apply on Delhi as well?
Ajay Maken: No, it should not. Even the chief minister of Punjab is opposed to this idea to stop the BJP. AAP is losing ground and when they are being rejected by people why should we supply them political oxygen? AAP is an opportunist party. It is not a secular party. Kejriwal is ideologically hollow. He was the one who tied up with Baba Ramdev and Kiran Bedi. If he gets concessions from BJP, he will side with them.
WION: Are you saying that alliances should be state specific?
Ajay Maken: Alliances have to be crafted on state to state basis after consulting the state leadership.
WION: What is the Congress roadmap of recovery under you?
Ajay Maken: Congress needs understanding within the party than help from outside. We have conducted surveys and found that people very fondly remember 15 years of Sheila Dixit's regime. We will win elections on our own. We cannot undermine the strength of the Congress workers in a state. In the past two decades Congress was able to defeat BJP thrice. In order to come back we don't need assistance. We have bench strength in leaders like Sheila Dixit, Mahabal Mishra, JP Agarwal and Sandeep Dixit. If we work together, we will defeat both AAP and BJP.