After a stunning debut in the Delhi elections, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is now looking at making gains on the national stage. AAP has started its poll campaign for the general elections with its first list well ahead of the other parties, hoping to capitalise on the early start. In Maharashtra, AAP’s state convenor Anjali Damania will challenge BJP’s Nitin Gadkari in his debut Lok Sabha election, though on home turf.
Following are the excerpts from an interview with Ms Damania, while on the campaign trail:
NDTV: Many see you as an outsider. Will that be a problem?
Ms Damania: I really don’t understand why they term me as an outsider. I’m an Indian and I’m from Maharashtra. Where have I come from? Not Italy or US or UK. I’m from Mumbai. If a lady from Italy can come and become the President of the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi who lives in Delhi and contests from Amethi, so can I.
NDTV: Is there dissent within party because of your nomination from Nagpur? Social activist from here, Rupa Kulkarni, openly said she is upset. Another dissenter started his own Nagpur Aam Aadmi Party saying there is no transparency in your system.
Ms Damania: I feel bad about Rupa. It was unfortunate. But that decision was taken by PAC, it was decided that state leaders would take on the big leaders who have corruption cases against them. She is a little upset and she has every right to be. But to say the process is not transparent is not correct.
NDTV: Other political parties say you (AAP) are more of a ‘hit-and-run’ phenomenon.
Ms Damania: We have been facing allegations that we are generally shoot-and-scoot but that it not true. In the last two and half years we have exposed three big scams, like the irrigation scam of Maharashtra, the land grab by Mumbai Cricket Association.
What I feel extremely sad about is that people call us anarchist. People working for the right cause are called anarchists but a Sanjay Nirupam and Priya Dutt who are MPs can sit on an anshan (fast) outside the Reliance office in Mumbai without any papers without substantiating their allegations. That’s absolutely absurd. They sitting on an anshan is fair, they are not called anarchists but we are.
NDTV: There are now allegations against you as well.
Ms Damania: I was expecting them. The minute I thought of contesting elections, I expected same allegations which were raised two years back. Why not take action in the last two years? The government is under them (NCP). Police is under them, it’s under their control.
NDTV: Make or break election for AAP?
Ms Damania: Definitely. Make or break for the country I would say. Country really needs to get rid of corruption of these politicians who have ripped the country looted the country. It is not just AAP but big hope in the moods and hopes of a lot of Indians. And if this comes down people like me will really get depressed.