New Delhi: As Delhi gears up for elections, activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal, who is making is electoral debut, says his Aam Aadmi Party is confident of win. "We are winning. Various surveys show this... We don't have money. They have money. We have public support. Try comparing the two," he tells NDTV.
Following is the full transcript of his interview:
NDTV: How confident are you that the unique campaign model you've adopted will work in a political environment like ours?
Arvind Kejriwal: We are winning. Various surveys show this. Yogendra Yadav, the country's best psephologist has done a survey according to which 47% of people in Delhi are saying they want to give a chance to the Aam Aadmi Party. Compared to that, only 29% favour the BJP and 25% support the Congress. So AAP is forming the government with an overwhelming majority. Many are saying it's a new party. It's based on truth and sincerity. We don't have money. We don't have the paraphernalia you'll see in other parties. What is it that's driving people towards us? What is that magnetic force? Truth and only truth. That's what has kept us alive in the last two years of the Anna movement. Every kind of conspiracy was hatched against us, to kill the movement, to kills us, destroy us. It's our perseverance for truth that kept us going.
NDTV: There seems to be popular support for you on the ground. But are you concerned that this may not translate into votes? This is electoral politics and you're up against big political players like the Congress and the BJP.
Arvind Kejriwal: It's already happening. That's what surveys are showing. People are seeing us as an alternative. Some TV channels have done surveys projecting us as kingmakers, projecting a hung assembly. Our popularity is increasing by the day. The vote share is increasing exponentially by the day. For the Congress and the BJP, it's coming down. For the Congress, it's steep. We're moving up, they're coming down. At one point, we'll overtake these people. This is going to translate into votes.
NDTV: It's interesting you refer to that projection of you as a kingmaker. What if there's a hung assembly? Ideologically, you've opposed both the Congress and the BJP and maintained an equidistance. But if, in a hung assembly scenario, you refuse to join hands with either party, what happens then?
Arvind Kejriwal: We will neither support the Congress nor the BJP. Nor will we take their support to form the government. Because the people who'll vote for us are those who'll vote against the BJP and the Congress, we'll cheat these people if we do that. So unless the BJP and the Congress join hands, they'll have to be a re-poll and in that re-poll, we're confident that we'll get a majority.
NDTV: But nobody wants frequent elections. A huge amount of public money is spent on them. Are you saying even after such a massive exercise, we may not have a government in Delhi?
Arvind Kejriwal: There's no problem. The amount of money that's being siphoned off by the Congress and the BJP, compared to that, the election expenses would be a pittance. It'll be a small cost for a clean government.
NDTV: How can you be sure any party will emerge with a clear majority even in a re-poll?
Arvind Kejriwal: It's not for us to decide. It's for the people to decide. A TV anchor asked me - have you thought of what you'll do if you lose the November elections? I said - it's not for me to worry about, it's for you to decide what you will do if we lose the November elections. Your life will be ruined. So the people have to decide. Why should I bother? I'm just doing my duty. We've put everything at stake - our life, our families, our savings, everything. That's all we can do.
NDTV: You're up against major political parties that have been around for a very long time. They have a lot of money. And we know that money power inevitably plays a very big role in electoral politics in India. You're someone who's challenging that model of election funding. Some say it's too idealistic given the rough and tumble of electoral politics in India.
Arvind Kejriwal: They have money. We have public support. Try comparing the two. Everytime there's been a battle between money and junoon (passion), junoon wins. The same will happen this time. We're on the path of truth which cannot lose.
NDTV: But big parties pump in a lot of money, there are big banners, posters, rallies and often allegations that votes are bought. How do you propose to counter that? The problem exists whether we like it or not.
Arvind Kejriwal: When Anna went on a fast, we didn't have anybody. The first day when we had to put up a tent at Ramlila Maidan, we had just 80 thousand rupees in our bank. We started a huge movement with no money. Within four days, we received almost a crore. So if you're honest and putting everything at stake, God helps.
NDTV: All kinds of people including NRIs have been donating a lot of money. Tell us about that.
Arvind Kejriwal: There are two categories of people. All the people here in this room, don't even draw a salary. They've left their jobs are have dedicated themselves to us. They believe something will change in this country post November. It is that hope that's keeping them alive.
Then there are people who're abroad. They want a change in this country. They can't give us time. They're donating money. There's a person who's in Hong Kong who works with a bank. He's donated 50 lakh rupees. He said even his family doesn't know and it's his entire life's savings. He's encouraging many of his friends to donate. So it's the hope that something will change.
NDTV: So you don't think you're at any disadvantage?
Arvind Kejriwal: I don't think so. Money is a small thing which is given too much importance. People still don't have enough faith in the power of truth. In the last two years, the government has targeted us repeatedly, conspired against us. We had nothing, they could've finished us. It's just the power of truth that kept us alive. We'll prove how powerful truth and honest can be.