Kejriwal’s interim bail will positively impact Delhi LS polls: Kanhaiya Kumar | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Kejriwal’s interim bail will positively impact Delhi LS polls: Kanhaiya Kumar

May 13, 2024 04:04 PM IST

Kumar, a former Jawaharlal Nehru University students union leader, will face incumbent MP Manoj Tiwari of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

From a student leader at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Kanhaiya Kumar has come a long way. He is contesting his second Lok Sabha election, from the North East Delhi constituency for the INDIA bloc alliance. He spoke to HT’s Vrinda Tulsian about his political journey and the issues in the constituency.

Delhi goes to polls on May 25. (HT photo)
Delhi goes to polls on May 25. (HT photo)

Arvind Kejriwal is out on bail. How do you feel about it?

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This is very good news; it will positively impact the Delhi elections. I would just say there is no need to panic for the people NDA... You have to pay for what you do. If you want to throttle democracy in this country, you should remember that Gandhi, Ambedkar, and Nehru made this country and its citizens, and this country is democratic. This is just the beginning.

You and Manoj Tiwari are both from Bihar, but you are termed an outsider. Why?

I am a Bihari. Hearing the word ‘outsider’ as a Bihari is not new to me… As soon as we take the train, and the Bihar border ends… we get called “outsiders”. I don’t take this as an allegation. This is my truth, and I will proudly live it.

Is there pressure within the party? Are the workers upset with your ticket?

Why will there be pressure? If I am an outsider here, where was Modi ji born… was he born in Varanasi? Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to fight elections from Balrampur, Sushma Swaraj ji fought from Karnataka, and LK Advani fought elections from Lucknow. This is not the matter of any one party. Manoj Tiwari himself is not from here. Why does this ‘outsider’ debate happen in politics?

What are the constituency demands according to you? Especially considering how North East Delhi is so underdeveloped?

I know more than Manoj Tiwari ji what the real situation is. If it is about who came to Delhi first, I arrived much before him.

He was contesting elections in 2009 against Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur. I was in Mukherjee Nagar in 2009. The question is what has the MP of the party done in 10 years? See the conditions of Chauhan Basti and Kadipur village. There are traffic problems, drainage issues, construction issues, crimes against women... These incidents happen in the country’s capital, Parliament is not very far from here. This constituency was covered with tarpaulin during G20... BJP and Manoj Tiwari were so ashamed of the people that they covered them up.

How do the challenges differ in Delhi compared to Begusarai?

The geography is different, and the demography is different so obviously, there are differences but there are similarities too — people in Begusarai and North East Delhi are struggling with inflation and unemployment.

Do you think the anti-incumbency will work in your favour?

The INDIA bloc is not focusing on anti-incumbency politics. Our focus is on the politics of equality. BJP has removed people’s issues from politics and made it personal. Previously, the MP was elected by the people and the MPs used to elect the PM, now the role has reversed – the PM elects the MPs... that is not democracy. The discourse needs to come back to politics.

You mentioned you don’t have funds. What does campaigning look like for you till May 25?

We will contest the elections with the support of people through crowdfunding... we will fight for the people with their backing. This approach follows the Gandhian way. Gandhi ji also used crowdfunding during the freedom struggle, fighting with the support of the people. In the last election also, we relied on crowdfunding.

Also Read:Lok Sabha polls: Kanhaiya, ex-minister file papers as nominations close for Delhi

Arvinder Singh Lovely was the latest exit the party. Is there an internal rift in the party?

There are no internal rifts. The Congress is in Opposition now... the Congress we take pride in isn’t just about power; its essence lies in its history of fighting like Gandhi and Ambedkar’s legacy. When the BJP was in opposition for years, they sidelined their flagbearers when their turn came, and replaced them with defectors from Congress.

Why have they given important positions to people who were in power during Congress rule also? The question should be asked to these BJP workers... how they feel after getting snubbed by their own party as the party gave positions to turncoats whom they abused previously. Even Lovely ji was a minister here. So, this question should be posed to them.

Do you think you should have contested from Begusarai?

I am someone who can adapt, like someone playing badminton with a cricket bat. I acknowledge my limitations. My approach to these matters isn’t personal, it’s a matter of public concern. Decision-making in public affairs should be collective. Despite switching parties, I didn’t have to compromise on my principles. My stance remains unwavering, and I continue to work with the same autonomy. Why? Because I don’t see politics in that light. The agenda is to protect democracy so that tomorrow a child of an Anganwadi worker can pursue a PhD. This is my fight.

JNU to Begusarai to Delhi, you finish 10 years in politics next year. How do you reflect on this journey?

I came to Delhi to become a collector but ended up pursuing a doctorate instead. Then I went to jail… from Bihar to Tihar. Despite my intentions to become a teacher, I found myself drawn to politics. From contesting elections in Begusarai to now doing so in Delhi, my journey has been far from what I had envisioned. Yet, I remain grounded in my beliefs, principles, and the lessons I’ve gleaned from society.

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