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For INDIA alliance to succeed everyone will have to rise above personal ‘ambition’ for larger good of country: Raghav Chadha – Times of India

As the INDIA alliance coordination committee gears-up to meet, Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Rajya Sabha MP in a wide-ranging interview said that no discussion around seat-sharing has happened within the INDIA alliance so far and this conversation is likely to commence at Sharad Pawar’s (NCP supremo) residence in Delhi where the committee will hold its first meeting later in the day on Wednesday. Chadha who is a member of the coordination committee said that “for an alliance like this to be successful mahatvakanksha (ambition), matbhed (difference of opinion) and manbhed (difference of mind) need to be sacrificed and set aside. Every single participant of this alliance needs to recognise this”.
Q. Will we see AAP and Congress come together in Delhi or Punjab on seat sharing as part of the INDIA alliance?
The AAP with a view to protect India’s democracy and Constitution has joined this alliance and come together with various political parties in order to defeat a dictatorial and anti-democratic regime of the BJP. AAP has not joined the INDIA alliance for any personal electoral ambitions and has joined this for the larger good of the country. Today, our country is battling with several challenges, from inflation to price rise to unemployment to agrarian crisis and we need a government at the Centre that has a blueprint to solve all these challenges. With that in mind there will be conversation within the alliance regarding who should contest on how many seats across the country. Whether the seat sharing ratio will be consistent across states, what will be the split between political parties in respective states – is something that will be decided by the coordination committee of the INDIA alliance. No discussion around seat-sharing has yet happened within the alliance so far. Most likely this conversation is likely to commence at the first meeting of the coordination committee of the alliance at (NCP supremo) Sharad Pawar’s residence in Delhi on Wednesday.
Q. AAP leadership in Punjab appears to be open to alliance as per reports but Congress state unit has openly made their concerns and objections known to the leadership of their party. So, where does AAP stand on this?
Junior leadership of political parties including mine has in the past made certain statements which do not necessarily subscribe or coincide with the view of the party. We all have to remember that for an alliance like this to be successful mahatvakanksha (ambition), matbhed (difference of opinion) and manbhed (difference of mind) need to be sacrificed and set aside for this alliance to be successful. Every single participant of this alliance needs to recognise this. Just as how in 1977 under the banner of Janata party the socialists, the communists, the jansanghis, the right wingers and left wingers everyone got together to defeat the mighty (then PM) Indira Gandhi’s regime, in the year 2024 something similar is happening where people have sacrificed personal as well as political differences to come together as INDIA alliance for the larger good of the country. And the outcome of the Janata party’s 1977 electoral battle is what is going to repeat itself in 2024.
Q. AAP rose to prominence by accusing all other parties of corruption and projecting itself as an ‘alternative’. But now you have joined hands with the very same parties. What gives you the confidence that it is not going to affect your party’s appeal and following?
First of all there is unity within the INDIA alliance on the issues that are plaguing India currently but that does not mean uniformity on every single issue. Unity in an alliance does not mean we have to be on the same page and same stage on every issue. As far as the question on public appeal goes, political parties come together not on the whims and fancies of a political leader within a political party but based on the feedback they receive from the people. We all have come together to form the INDIA alliance based on feedback as the need of the hour is to overthrow the BJP regime.
Q. AAP has blamed the arrests of Sisodia and Satyendra Jain on Centre’s political vendetta. But courts have refused to give them bail. Will it not blunt your allegation when you go out and campaign?
A very large section of our society does not understand the finer nuances of law, particularly the criminal justice system. The laws which have been applied particularly in case of former deputy CM Manish Sisodia are laws that have been amended ever since Modi government came into office to create a system in which you can keep anybody in jail on the pretext of investigation. The Courts fortunately or unfortunately have to only interpret the laws. Whether it is Manish Sisodia and of Satyendra Jain both are accused of an alleged crime and have been kept in jail on the pretext of investigation. They have not been convicted, trial has not commenced. It is very important for not just political parties but this country at large to revolt against these draconian laws that provide for unending imprisonment under the garb of investigation. We will be fighting against these amendments politically, legislatively and legally.
Q. So, what is going to be AAP’s outreach strategy going forward as part of the INDIA alliance?
In order to make the decision making process of the INDIA alliance very swift and smooth committees have been formed. The first meeting of coordination committee which is the highest decision making body will happen on Wednesday. We will decide on the agenda of the meeting. The endeavour is to finalise the issues that the alliance should take to the masses and provide a solution; decide on the contours of the mass outreach; and finally the seat sharing conversations which will happen state wise. No uniform formula applies to all states and each state is unique with different electoral climate. All these issues will be discussed threadbare and hectic negotiations will take place going forward.
Q.You were one of the first people to take to twitter to protest the use of ‘President of Bharat’ in the G20 invites. Why is that the case? The Constitutional position on Bharat and India is rather clear so what is your objection to the usage?
The way the BJP is today rattled with the INDIA alliance is shown in the way they have reacted to our alliance name where they are planning to change the name of the country. I must say BJP should realise that the name of the country is not their ancestral property that has been passed to them, it belongs to 135 crore Indians. It is a brand that has been built over decades and has global value. To those who argue that the name India carries a colonial legacy that we must shed, I want to ask why did it take the BJP government 9 long years to suddenly change the name of the country. It is the same government that over these years came up with flagship programmes with the name India like ‘Make In India’ and ‘Startup India’.
Q. The government has set-up a committee to study and recommend on ‘One Nation, One Election‘. AAP has been opposing the idea rather vociferously. What are your reasons for objecting to this?
Only a government that wishes to completely evade public accountability will conceive the idea of one nation, one election. I think what this country needs is ‘one nation 20 elections’ so that these political parties go to the people, announce welfare schemes and not evade mass connect. If they are so much in love with uniformity they should focus on ‘one nation, one education’, ‘one nation, one health’. This is what the public wants.

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