The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)'s overwhelming performance in the recently concluded Punjab Assembly elections has elevated Raghav Chadha's stature in the party.Chadha, who was entrusted with key responsibilities during the elections, is now being considered as AAP's 'Chanakya'.AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had expressed confidence in Chadha and in 2020, appointed him as the party's co-incharge for Punjab. Chadha, an MLA from Delhi's Rajendra Nagar constituency, successfully handled the responsibility and constantly raised key issues such as sand mining in the state.
Chadha has been with Kejriwal since the early days of the party and played a key role in drafting the Lokpal bill. A chartered accountant by profession, Chadha is the youngest spokesperson of the party and is also a member of the party's National Executive.In 2019, he contested the Lok Sabha elections from South Delhi and stood second. Later, in 2020, he contested and won from the Rajendra Nagar Assembly seat. Currently, he is the Vice Chairman of Delhi Jal Board.The AAP leader recently spoke to IANS on a range of issues, including his role in the Punjab elections.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Were you expecting such a landslide victory Punjab?
A: From day one I knew that people are going to vote for change in Punjab. We didn't make any claims earlier because it would have been considered as our hubris... We saw this election as a battle between 'Dharma' (righteousness) and 'Adharma' (impropriety). In which hatred and impropriety were defeated.
Q: What was your contribution in Punjab's victory? are you the 'Chanakya' behind this victory?
A: This is the victory of the people of Punjab. We come from a very normal family. This is victory of party workers in Punjab. Leaders of Congress, BJP, Akali Dal made provocative statements against us. Even Kejriwal was called a terrorist. I was called a white Englishman and Kejriwal was called a black Englishman. Bhagwant Mann was also insulted but we focused only on positive campaigning. This is victory of righteousness, we had asked the people of Punjab to 'sweep the broom'. Along with the broom, the public also used 'vacuum cleaners'.
Q: Is Bhagwant Mann the right candidate for the post of Chief Minister?
A: Bhagwant Mann is a deserving person. He will prove to be a great administrator and chief minister. I know him for a long time. In 2014, when he became an MP for the first time, I had worked with him as his Parliamentary Secretary, so I know him personally. He has been also a top performer MP in Parliament.
Q: Will it be the Chief Minister who would take the decisions or will it be the high command?
A: Nothing like this is going to happen. The people of Punjab have given the right answer by selecting him. Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia will cooperate and advice him for rightful implementation of their Delhi model, water-electricity and education model in Punjab. He will establish a good system in the state. It will not be a 'Udta Punjab', but a 'Uthta and Khush haal' (rising and prosperous) Punjab.
Q: It has been alleged that the AAP took help from Khalistanis, how you see this?
A: Those who called us Khalistanis and terrorists have got a befitting answer from the public. These people tried to play with people's fear. In Punjab, whether it is a Panthi seat or a Hindu dominated seat, we have won all. There is always caste politics in Punjab but this time people have given us a chance for change, for development.
Q: How do you see the future of Aam Aadmi Party?
A: After Punjab, our party will give a tough fight to both BJP and Congress in Uttarakhand, Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and the party will expand itself at the national level. The dynasts who ruled Punjab for decades have their roots shaken. Arvind Kejriwal will be the biggest challenger of the BJP and AAP is a natural alternative to the Congress at the national level as well as across the country.