Yes, ‘yaar, ab humko maaf karo is what the people of Delhi are going to tell the present government in just a few days from now. Read all about the opinions of Kanwar Pratap Singh (KPS), National Secretary and President Delhi Pradesh Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

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Q. What are your experiences with the social media or the new media? Are your leaders comfortable with twitter and Facebook?

KPS: As far as I am concerned I am not very well acquainted with this… if all media, including social media go and make use of this in a constructive way for society I have no objection. But if any media falls short of society parameters this concept can be given a second thought also. If you ask me if political parties really think they need this or not? On the social media we heard about certain people commenting about ‘cattle class’ or ‘mango people’… I think this does not need any comment. Political parties need to use it in a constructive way. Moreover, all this social media connects only to a very limited class.

Q. So why are political parties so paranoid about the social media? 

KPS: I don’t know. As far as I am concerned I don’t know anything about social media as I don’t have any Facebook or Twitter working for me. Though I understand that Facebook and Twitter are powerful tools of communication.

Q. The obvious question then is that if the social media is becoming a major force of communication, isn’t it time that everyone in political parties… from the higher echelons to the grass-root worker became conversant with its working? 

KPS: I am totally in dark about this thing. Sorry to admit this but I don’t find time to indulge in all this.

Q. Social media is people-oriented. So is RTI. Why do you think political parties want to be beyond its clutches? Why do they want it diluted? 

KPS: As far as RTI is concerned, the provision of RTI is there in the constitution… but it needs to be used properly. If day-to-day working of a political party is covered under this law, it is not possible to maintain so many records. Everyone coming up with an enquiry about every little issue which is not in the interest of anybody, cannot possibly be dealt with by a political party.

Q. So what is the position of NCP on RTI?

We are quite comfortable with RTI as it is and don’t want it diluted. But we don’t want it (RTI) to be over-active too as we don’t want queries to penetrate into fields or areas in which they are not entitled to enter.

KPS: Now we find even the judiciary entering everywhere… if the total democratic setup is to be run by the judiciary, then we don’t need democracy at all! 

Q. Why then is AAP so comfortable with the social media and RTI. They are open to all sort of scanning. Does this make the conventional political parties nervous? If NGOs need to be covered by RTI and if even business houses are sooner than later going to be included in its ambit, why not add political parties? 

KPS: Not nervous. The social media and RTI are just an unnecessary burden of them. For the thousands of queries that RTI will direct towards us, we will need to setup a whole new office, maintain all records… and this is impossible for any political parties. Political parties are NOT business houses.

So far as the AAP is concerned, it is not a political party yet. It has to prove itself first.

Q. But aren’t most political parties or politicians connected to business houses? 

KPS: No. No political party has any business running their functions.

Q. You have also stated that your party, the NCP, will be encouraging only honest people to stand for the elections. So if you are going to have honest leaders, why not give the public the advantage of knowing through RTI, how honest they really are? 

KPS: There are so many things concerning the public that have to be taken care of… so many other problem and issues of daily life have to be looked into… almost two-thirds of our population is struggling with their daily needs. Why let this focus be directed towards useless enquiries. All this RTI thing is a time-waster.

Q. NCP has been a Mah-based party… but they will now be contesting all the seats in the coming assembly elections. Where do you see NCP now. 

KPS: NCP is coming of age now. Our leaders parted our way with Congress not long ago… wherever my leaders were stronger, more connected with the people, the response was very good. As soon as the party was established, in that very election we got the status of a National party which means our ideology was accepted by-and-large by the country. That’s why we got National status… whereas so many other parties even after years have not reached this stage. They are still State parties or regional parties.

Q. So despite getting a national status for your party, you decided to step out of Maharashatra only now? 

KPS: We are growing. Last assembly elections we contested 15 seats in Delhi… now our connection with people here is almost established. So we will be contesting all the seats this time.

Q. How confident are you in the Delhi elections this year? Any number that you are sure of? 

KPS: This is something that only our psephologist can answer… we have no surveys to show. But we have been connecting with people directly through our ‘jan chetna abhiyan’ and after this we have come to the conclusion that our showing in this elections will be in double figures.

Q. Double figures! But for the parliamentary elections, you are struggling with your seat sharing figures with Congress… any comments on this? 

KPS: We are the largest party in Mah… my figure of MLAs is far greater than what any other party can talk of.

Because we are in alliance with Congress, the ratio of seat sharing was 22:26 with the Congress getting 26. We contested in far lesser seats in the assembly elections there in Mah too. But our performance in the elections was much better. My MLAs got more seats than the Congress party. We are the single largest party there. So now we will obviously fight for more seats.

Q. Do you think in Delhi in 2014, you will go for seat-sharing with Congress. 

KPS: As the party president, I have decided to go all alone for both the assembly as well as the parliamentary elections. And if you want to ask for reasons for this confidence… no reason, just confidence in my party’s performance.

Q. Congress tactics is to get its rival’s votes consolidated in its favour and then make that block a part of it. NCP is quoted as the first example… there are some who even conjecture that the AAP too is going to take the same route. Any comments? 

KPS: Cannot comment on the AAP strategy. Based on media reports the BJP say that the AAP is a ploy of the Congress party and the Congress says that they are a stooge of BJP. Let the AAP decide on what their position is. As far as NCP is concerned, our alliance with Congress is only because we are a part of the UPA… but for State elections, we go alone. Only like-minded parties who want to align with us and who have the right opinion about our ideology, can join us.

Q. Can ‘join us’? But isn’t it that it is invariably the NCP that is always joining somebody or the other? You have always been a part of someone else’s khichdi… a few grains in a bowl of khichdi. So what is the possibility of a Third Front being created now and you again becoming a few grains in that new bowl of khichdi? 

KPS: No… No… never… my leader has already clarified that we are a part of UPA and we’ll be there.

The Third Front… we have been hearing about this for many years. Will it materialise is all a conjecture. These fronts need a leader… that is not yet decided.

Q. What about the assembly elections? 

KPS: We will be including this in our election manifesto. So we will be there for whosoever needs our MLAs.

Q. So you will even join the BJP to help it form a government in Delhi, if needed?

KPS: We have our reservations about certain communal parties. If anyone wants our support, they will need to follow our agenda. This is because one of the main planks for us is going to be accountability. Till now everyone is running away from accountability. We want a government that is accountable to the people.

Q. How do you define accountability? 

KPS: No corruption. Nothing will be tolerated which is against the constitution.

Q. There are conjectures on a hung assembly in this election in Delhi. What do you have to say on this? 

KPS: I think it should be… because if we go by the last election, both the Congress and the BJP are losing their vote-share in Delhi.

Q. So who is gaining? 

KPS: Yes, this is where the NCP comes in. from the last elections, almost 20% of the voters don’t vote for either the Congress or BJP. We are planning to capture this percentage of votes that were going waste… these votes go to either the JD or the BSP but do not end up make any productive contribution to the assembly elections. So our party, being a national party we were not able contest those elections in a proper way… and this is what we are planning this year. That chunk of votes that I mentioned, is what we are aiming for. Our party, being a national party and with a battery of leaders, like Sharad Pawar ji, Prafful ji, Tariq Anwar ji… will be able to get this chunk and make a difference in the post-election period. This is what people really want. So we may fill-in these gaps.

Q. NCP with 9 MPs is able to get required resources for their state… all other ruling regional parties, wherever they are, have to struggle and use all their guile, while you walk away triumphant. What is the secret of getting such an awesome cooperation from the Congress? 

KPS: Mah is one of those States that gives the country back the largest share of revenue collected in the country. mah generates a lot of employment besides revenue… I have read that Mumbai collects 40% of the Direct taxes collected in the country… mah comes with largest contributions in case of any problem in any other state. We have helped the centre provide aid to Orissa, Kerela, Andhra, NE etc. Whereas what do other states give? Even in Delhi, the CM is more worried about the safety of her daughter only, and revenue earning is far away. If this is the case here, how can I compare any other state with Delhi?

Q. Well, Mah does have a lot of schemes going on… like the ‘manodharya’ to rehabilitate women in cases of rape and acid attacks. However, many such schemes are active even in delhi but you feel that the the Delhi CM isn’t really working hard to make the city secure and safe for women. My question is… what is your party doing to make the women of Mah safe and secure? 

KPS: Empowering women is a major step for us. Supriya Sule ji has ‘self-help’ scheme that are working well to let economically weaker women cope with their lives better. Based on the success of such schemes, we have decided to launch them in other parts of the country too. Now let me also say that security and safety comes with the improvement of economic conditions. So these groups will be created which will have self-sufficiency in-built in them.

Q. Now that you mention Supriya Sule ji… she was quoted once saying: ‘I always ride a cycle!’ What i want to know is if your leaders participate in some cycle rally for a few minutes and then leave the venue in their big car? The public sees everything and then shares it all on the social media. 

KPS: We are different from other political parties. Whatever my leaders say, they do. She does not obviously ride a cycle all the time.

Q. Do you have any message for the readers of The Education Post? 

KPS: We should be very proud of the product that our universities and colleges are producing. Incidentally, if the NASA can be run by Indian scientists, why can’t NASA be here in India? Let me mention Delhi here. The present Delhi Government has not created a single job opportunity for the product that is coming out of Delhi University. Now, where is this energy going to be utilised? Obviously, in Nation building… but we are not giving them any opportunities. Rather, the Delhi Govt is afraid of its own duties because they provide electricity to corporates but not the people, they want to out-source even water, even transport is being given to consortiums. All this is affecting the state of job opportunities that the govt can provide. The calibre available to us is not given opportunities and they go to other countries to form their back-bone. This is the case with the centre too. Job opportunities that the government can provide have come down.

Q. So what you are saying is that sarkari vacancies must go up? But you very well know about the ghost employees in MCD and the way an increase in the number of babus in offices does not really get translated into an increase in work done efficiently? Moreover, out-sourcing and contractual work forces do lead to a similar number of opportunities… and this seems to be working better. 

KPS: The number of job opportunities in government offices needs to increase. Otherwise, what is a government then? Why do we need a government? Why are we there? Why do you need us to be there? Why do we need a Chief Minister? Why do we need a battery of ministers? To run a government smoothly and according to the constitution, provide basic amenities like education and jobs is what a government must do. That era of a lot of government jobs is now gone. Now if you don’t have any department, how can you employ? As I said earlier, the electricity supply is looked after by corporates… we don’t have even government sweepers to sweep our streets.

If you say that earlier the offices were over-staffed and the employees were sitting idle, then it means that the CM and the ministers were not doing their job well because there is a political system and there is an administrative system. This means that the ministers were not vigilant about the things happening under their nose. It is the ministry’s job to see that officers and offices worked properly. The Congress Party now has to face the music for this slackness all around.

Q. So with this philosophy on education and job opportunities you will probably show that you are different. Is it? 

KPS: We are different.

Q. Come on, Kanwar Pratap ji, how are you different from any other party. In the parliament you just say YES to whatever the congress says. Now you are telling me that the policies created and implemented by Congress are anti-people. Why couldn’t your MPs have gone against any legislation that was anti-people… or favoured any that was pro-people? 

KPS: Correct. My MPs don’t speak. But my leader does speak… and his views are documented by the media as well as in the parliamentary proceedings too. My leaders oppose every single thing that is anti-people according to our party ideology. Our numbers are very small… but we show our resentment to them whenever necessary. We accept certain things when the functionality of the parliament is in the larger interest of the nation. However, in State politics, things are different. Here, if they have to face the music, they have to. Every problem, every unsolved issue is in front of the people of Delhi. I think Congress cannot be in power… should not be in power… in Delhi.

Q. Any message from the NCP to the people of Delhi? 

KPS: Delhi has a very tolerant spirit… and since the partition we have been tolerating the same mistakes again and again. But now it is enough… yaar ab humko maaf karo… and now the government should move according to the constitutional setup. Whatever we want is NOT the constitution… and each of us have a responsibility. We all need to get together, stick to our duties (even the judiciary) and solve problems of Delhi rather create problems for Delhi. This pressure is what the present government is going to face in the coming days when certain things will be brought in the purview of the law of the land and in the vote of the people.



Arvind Passey
14 November 2013
Published in ‘The Education Post’ on 11 November 2013

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