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AAP is about Indian people getting their due, which they deserve on account of being independent: Somnath Bharti

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By Nitin Kesar

From holding meetings in parks to ‘Mohallah Sabhas,’ MLA Somnath Bharti is trying out different ways to reach out to the people of his Malviya Nagar constituency in South Delhi. During the recently held meeting of the Aam Aadmi Party’s Political Affairs Committee, he was appointed as a Sah Prabhari (Independent Charge) to look after Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshwadeep and Puducherry.

In an exclusive interview with NewsGram, former Law Minister of Delhi shared his thoughts on AAP’s strategy for South India, his plans for his constituency and the change in the system that is coming slowly. Excerpts:

Nitin Kesar- What are your views about Andaman and Nicobar as a political seat, since AAP is expanding there?

Somnath Bharti- I have been given the charge of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshwadeep and Puducherry, and each of them is of paramount importance. AAP is not about the political ambitions of a group of people. It is about Indian people getting their due, which they deserve on account of being independent. It is about giving power to the people so that they can decide their own fate.

NK- The politics in the south is very much regional. How is AAP planning to connect with the people there?

SB- AAP isn’t trying to inject people from outside. We are trying to find local people who want a system that responds to local needs, truly and honestly. The locals will trigger ideology conceptualized by them.

NK- How difficult is this challenge for AAP?

SB– Initially, I thought it’d be very challenging. But after I met the local volunteers, I did not have the same opinion. They are so enthusiastic and selfless, with a drive to turn the system people-centric.

NK- What about Andaman? Hardly anybody talks about that place and politics in the same breath. What are the chances of an AAP victory there?

SB- Andaman has a mixed population like Delhi. There are Hindi, Telugu, and Bengali speaking people. We have about 2% votes there and our volunteers there will be able to build a strong base.

NK- What’s the general vision for the constituency?

SB- I’ve inherited a system in ICU, and I am trying to bring it to a normal ward with my work, by bringing new technology. Till now, leaders have not been available to the common people. However, we are accessible 24*7. People can come anytime they want and there is no ‘dalal’ (tout).

NK- What’s the impact of AAP’s policies on people?

SB – If your body becomes habitual to poison, its detoxification takes time. They believe an MLA is too big a man. For them to take me as Aam Aadmi will take time although it is happening. They have started taking me as a brother or a friend. But the comfort level that one finds between friends is still amiss at times. Specially, in people from poor colonies.

NK- What’s the mechanism for the policies to reach the downtrodden?

SB- Our Modus Operandi is bottom up. On every Saturday, there is a Mohallah Sabha and I’ve got four wards. We have all the authorities there. People come and put all the problems in front of them. Then they are given a date by when their problem will be resolved by the authorities.

NK- Three main priorities?

SB- First is water and sewage problem. It’s embarrassing that after 67 years, a constituency like Malviya Nagar (MN), which is mostly posh has water and sewage problem. I don’t know what BJP and Congress did so far. They have been deliberately inefficient. It’s not like they were not intelligent enough to solve the problems, but they used that intelligence to loot them.Security is another big problem. I’ve installed cameras in the market. These are good cameras with a range of 100 meters. Being a technology savvy person myself, I have been able to tell the specifications of the cameras.I have decided to turn MN into a model constituency.

NK – Time?

SB- This will take time but within a year we’ll see tangible changes. But the status quo is scared of changes. It doesn’t want change to happen. It feels that if the fundamental questions of people are answered then who will answer their next level of questions? Huge talent is available and it needs to be put to action.

NK- What about the WiFi model? What are technological hurdles being faced?

SB:  I decided WiFi for my constituency initially and then the party picked it up to be implemented all over Delhi. I am grateful that the party picked up my proposal. Now they are planning pan-Delhi. I am not a part of the team which is planning this, so I can’t say much.

NK- What has your learning experience been so far as a politician?

SB- You have to be very patient, and be ready to get abused. Being a politician so far had been a position of exploitation. Till the time people see you differently, they will not understand you. If I go to a place and have a cup of tea, it becomes a big thing. People say how humble I am. This is because MLAs till now were VVIPs. A few days back, I went to some houses in the morning to see if the water supply was proper, and they couldn’t believe that an MLA could ever come to their house to inquire about their problems. This is my spirit of service. For me, politics is a spiritual journey to serve human beings.

NK- In your constituency, are you planning any measures to curb pollution?

SB- Pollution, or for that matter any problem, arises when there is self-interest. We have decided to have last man connectivity to people, so they don’t bring their cars to the metro.

NK- What about the green cover?

SB- I celebrated my birthday by planting 100 saplings. I am going to celebrate every event in this way. The idea is that the moment you leave out your selfish interest, a politician can do wonders. You have money, power, and know-how about foreign advancements.

 

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Saw AAP MLAs Assaulting Chief Secretary, CM’s Advisor Tells Police

The AAP defended by stating that Jain had initially told police that he did not witness any assault and police has threatened Jain to change his statement

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The AAP had denied the charges of assault and said that the Chief Secretary was making allegations at the behest of the BJP. Wikimedia Commons

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s adviser V. K. Jain on Thursday told police that he saw AAP MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal “physically assaulting” Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, according to Jain’s statement recorded by the Delhi Police.

The AAP defended by stating that Jain had initially told police that he did not witness any assault and police has threatened Jain to change his statement.

On Tuesday, the Chief Secretary had alleged that he was beaten up by the two AAP MLAs in the presence of Kejriwal at the Chief Minister’s residence on Monday night, where he had been called for an emergency meeting.

ALSO READ: The assault on Chief Secretary exposes the double standards of AAP government

Police later arrested Khan and Jarwal and they were sent to judicial custody till Thursday.

According to the Chief Secretary, the Chief Minister’s adviser had called him over the phone and asked him to come to the Chief Minister’s residence for the meeting and Jain was also present there.

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According to the statement, Jain also saw that the Chief Secretary’s spectacles had fallen to the ground and the Chief Secretary picked them up and left the room. Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday, the Delhi Police submitted Jain’s statement at a city court, which said that Jain had gone to the washroom during the meeting and as he came out he saw the two AAP MLAs “physically assaulting” the Chief Secretary.

The statement was recorded under Section 161 of the CrPC, which means that it was recorded in front of the police and not a magistrate.

Sources told IANS that Jain later recorded his statement in front of a magistrate under section 164 of the CrPC.

“The statement under section 164 was later recorded with the magistrate in front a camera, without the presence of police. In that statement also he (Jain) has said that he saw the two MLAs physically assaulting the Chief Secretary,” a police officer privy to the case told IANS.

The officer said that the statement under section 164 has also been submitted to the court.

Jain was first questioned on Wednesday morning and then again on Thursday and his statement was recorded on Thursday.

The change in Jain’s statement that the AAP was referring to was from a “question and answer” with Jain recorded by police after questioning him on Wednesday.

According to a copy of Wednesday’s “question and answer” recorded by police, when asked whether Jain saw the Chief Secretary being manhandled, he replied that he had gone to the washroom in between the meeting and he could not say what happened during that time.

“By putting pressure on him (Jain) throughout the day (Thursday) and by threatening him, police has forced him to change his statement,” AAP MP Sanjay Singh told the media here on Thursday.

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Singh said that the whole issue was a conspiracy to “bring down the Delhi government” and to “defame the AAP”. Wikimedia Commons

 

“How is it that the same Jain who emphatically said yesterday that he witnessed no assault during the entire time that he was present there has now claimed otherwise?” he asked.

Singh said that AAP MLAs were being arrested over an alleged assault of which there was no proof.

“But on the other hand, despite there being video footage of officials assaulting Delhi Cabinet Minister Imran Hussain, there is no action taken against the guilty by the Delhi Police,” the AAP MP said.

The court on Thursday sent the two AAP MLAs, arrested on charges of assaulting the Chief Secretary, to judicial custody for 14 days.

ALSO READ: Delhi Chief Secretary row: AAP MLA arrested

Orders on the bail pleas of the two AAP MLAs and also on their police custody will be pronounced on Friday.

Meanwhile, scores of Delhi government employees across the city observed a five-minute silence outside their respective offices as a protest against the alleged assault on the Chief Secretary.

The IAS Association said that officers would continue the protest every day, till steps are taken to “ensure safety and dignity” of government staff in the city.

The AAP also hit out at Lt Governor Anil Baijal by stating that he was “working as a BJP agent” and demanded action against those involved in “manhandling and beating up” Hussain and his aide at the Delhi Secretariat on Tuesday. (IANS)