Dubbing the AAP’s demand for full statehood to Delhi “childish”, Congress Lok Sabha candidate JP Agarwal claimed that the Arvind Kejriwal-led party was raising the issue to divert people’s attention from its “failure” to fulfil the promises it had made in the 2015 assembly polls.
He also sought to know from Chief Minister Kejriwal what he and his party had done in the last four years for full statehood to Delhi.
The Congress has pitted Agarwal against Union minister and BJP leader Harsh Vardhan and AAP’s Pankaj Gupta from the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha seat, which goes to polls on May 12 along with the six other parliamentary constituencies in Delhi. Vardhan is the sitting MP from Chandni Chowk.
“It is a childish demand (full statehood to Delhi). Will people trust them (AAP) or laugh at them,” Agarwal told PTI in an interview.
The AAP has made the issue its poll plank and has promised to get full statehood for Delhi if its candidates win all the seven seats in the national capital.
“The AAP is raising the full statehood issue because it has completely failed to fulfil promises it had made in the run-up to the 2015 assembly elections. Because of their failure, they wanted to give a new message, and they did it,” the three-time MP from Chandni Chowk said.
Citing the works done during the Sheila Dikshit government, which was in power in Delhi for 15 years, he said the Congress dispensation had done lots of work in the national capital without full statehood.
“We never said that if Delhi gets full statehood, we will then work. Without statehood, we did lots of work, and the people saw them. Whatever the picture of Delhi you are seeing today is because of the then Congress government’s works,” said Agarwal, who has once represented North-East Delhi in the Lok Sabha.
The Congress leader sought to know from Kejriwal what his party’s MPs — four in the Lok Sabha and three in the Rajya Sabha — have done to strongly raise the issue of full statehood to Delhi in Parliament.
“Why were AAP MPs sleeping on the full statehood issue? Why didn’t they raise this issue earlier in Parliament? Why is AAP speaking lies? They are just misleading the people of Delhi,” he said.
On whether the failure to form an alliance with the AAP will split anti-BJP votes in Delhi, the Congress leader said his party has a separate vote bank.
“Both the AAP and the BJP are far behind the Congress which has been close to the people,” Agarwal said.
Hitting out at his rival Vardhan, he alleged that the Union minister has done nothing for the Lok Sabha constituency.
“Tell me what works Harsh Vardhan has done…he is a Union minister. He is minister only for himself, but tell me whether people have benefitted from this. Has he (Vardhan) brought any project for Chandni Chowk in the last four years?” he asked.
The Congress has fielded candidates who have an experience of 20-30 years in politics and are directly connected with the people, Agarwal said.