Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday discussed the importance of improving the state of education in the country, lashed out at the BJP, and said he is skilled in "building schools and hospitals rather than political alliances". In a wide-ranging session at an NDTV townhall, Mr Kejriwal also talked about his views on India's development trajectory, his opinion on building a Third Front and the challenges the AAP government faces in Delhi:
Here are the excerpts:
Firstly, why did we need this campaign? There is a lot of anger in the minds of the people. They are restless for more.
It has been 75 years since Independence but the question many ask is why have we been left behind after 75 years of Independence? Many nations that gained independence after us are now more prosperous than us.
Japan, Germany, Singapore, all got Independence after us - left us behind. We are a hardworking and intelligent nation - why are we still behind? We have the best doctors, engineers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and industrialists - yet we are behind many nations. Why?
If left to these politicians, we will be the same and be left behind even after the next 75 years.
We need to take all 130 crore people along in one voice. Only then will we progress.
These days, when you read the papers each morning, all you read is about Members of Legislative Assembly(MLAs) being bought; 8 MLAs bought here, a government brought down. 40 MLAs bought elsewhere; a government gone, 30 somewhere else. Till now they have bought 285 MLAs nationwide. They tried that on us too. When they came to buy our MLAs, they offered Rs 20 crore to each. In Maharashtra, they offered Rs 50 crore. I don't know. So, far they have spent Rs 7000-8000 crore in just buying MLAs and bringing down governments. Tell me, will this be the way India progresses? Whose money is this - it is yours and mine.
These guys are looting our money.
People read in the papers that XYZ billionaire's Rs 15,000 crore loan got waived off. On the other hand, you have a student whose parents are poor and they take a loan to study, or some middle-class family takes a loan to buy a car; god forbid if they miss a loan or EMI instalment - they are hounded and the money is recovered. But when it comes to these billionaires, Rs 10,000 crore, and 15,000 crore is being waived off. If this is an option, then make education free for all children; then the nation will progress.
These politicians have done nothing but fill their own pockets and those in their families. Now, we need to unite-all 130 crore of us-and take the right direction.
Look, I have never said that I know it all, but when all the people come together, then new ideas will emerge.
There are a few things without which a nation just cannot move ahead: the most important of them all is education.
If we do not give our children a good education, then all we will have is debates (bhaashanbaazi). The nation won't progress.
This very morning, I attended a school program at a Delhi government school. Students of government schools in Delhi, students from humble and poor backgrounds, 1,141 such students have cracked Joint Entrance Examination(JEE) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) this year. This is a huge achievement.
It was an emotional moment for me - I am an Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) student. This country has given me a lot and I am very thankful to the country. It has been my dream that just like I got a chance to get a great education at a great institution, I shall endeavor to ensure that every student, even the poorest of the poor, gets the same benefit and facilities.
I got a rank of 563 in JEE - today a student from a poor background, whose father is a security guard with a salary of Rs 12,000. He got a rank of 569. When he passes out of IIT - his starting salary will be Rs 2 lakh per month - they will come out of poverty. If we do that for all students in India, India will become a rich nation within a generation.
18 crore students in India study in government schools. Barring Delhi, the rest of the government schools in the country are no less than a junkyard.
Till the time government school infrastructure in the country doesn't change, the country cannot move forward.
I recently read that the PM has announced a yojana (scheme) to improve 14,500 government schools. I even congratulated the PM. But why only 14,500 government schools? The nation has 10.5 lakh government schools; at this pace, it will take us another 100 years and more to improve all schools. I say we can improve 10 lakh government schools within 5 years. I have the full plan and a budget. To improve all 10.5 lakh government schools in India, we need 10.5 lakh crore rupees. These people have waived off over Rs 10 lakh crore of their industrialist friends in the last few years.
People ask me: why does Kejriwal give education for free? Well, see, all of the world's most developed and richest countries-be it US, UK, or Japan-all provide free school education to all their citizens. Why?
It is not that they give free education because they are rich nations; instead, they are rich because they give free education to all their children.
If you want to be a rich nation; then education must be free for all.
In Punjab, it has not even been 6 months since 100 mohalla clinics have been started.
Hospitals have improved, schools have improved in Punjab, and electricity is free. So good work is happening.
Why do advertise? Why shouldn't we? We work hard, and we will advertise that. These guys don't even work and advertise.
Getting politicians from different parties won't take the nation forward: getting 130 crore Indians together would. I am not against any alliance, they can do as they like. If you want a better school, call Kejriwal, a better hospital, call Kejriwal.
Today's political sphere is so negative; only fighting among each other. But if all 130 crore Indians come together; then, all governments-centre and states-will all have to work, bringing about much-needed positivity.
For 75 years, people have been fooled and they have been looted. But it won't happen any longer. We have shown how things are done in Delhi in the last few years.
Whoever says we will put Rs 15 lakh in your bank account; please do not believe them. But if someone says we will give you better schools and hospitals, free education, then trust them.
Why do our youth go off abroad? Give them opportunities here in India and they will prosper here and make all the advanced technologies here in India. Give our scientists a chance to do that.
No, others do not go to the Hanuman temple. All must go. I appeal to all to go to the Hanuman temple. I ask all students must go. People say you have gone astray with temple politics. No, I feel I have come back on track by going to the Hanuman temple. Please go to one, read the Hanuman Chalisa, or go to any temple of any god you believe in.
What is this liquor scam they speak of? I just don't get it, no one does. Take four BJP leaders and put them in 4 different rooms and ask them to explain the so-called liquor scam, they will all say different things. So, what is this? I can see it that even you two don't know what this liquor scam is.
Stop doing drama. Doing nautanki from morning to night won't help the country progress. Stop this. Work for the people.
So, who is stopping them from taking action on Manish(Sisodia)? Manish himself said raid me, investigate and come and arrest me. What else you want him to do? But no, no arrest has been made. All they do is come with accusations and indulge in mudslinging. I keep saying this again and again: mudslinging will not take this country forward.
The CBI FIR mentions nothing of the allegations made by BJP or this report by the LG to the Chief Secretary. This means all this is a lie. Nothing of this is mentioned in the CBI report so far.
In the last 7 years, they have done an investigation of my 7 births (janams). No other political party in the history of mankind - 3000 years - has been investigated as much as AAP has been in last 5 years. We bought buses for Delhi, they got it investigated four times from CBI. We opened and improved schools. They investigated it. Same for mohalla clinics, same for roads we made in Delhi. Every single thing. Nothing has been found. Take, for example, the case against Satyendar Jain: the court keeps saying please provide a single piece of evidence against him. But not one has been given.
Now Amit Shah has gone to a school in Gujarat. In the history of their politics, this is the first time Amit Shah has visited a school in Gujarat. I am happy that we have got them to this stage. Now, you will see all BJP leaders in schools - that is our impact on them.
Look, we all need to learn from each other. Only then will positive growth of the nation will happen.
If the auto driver thing was choreographed, then why do the Congress also not do it? Who is stopping them?
There are two types of politics - what they did for the last 75 years was loot people. Send money to Swiss banks, build family assets but we stopped corruption. Now the money saved on corruption goes into giving benefits to people of Delhi for free - free electricity, free bus rides to women, free medicines and check-ups, etc.
They did corruption, we stopped corruption. They looted the money for themselves. We give the saved corruption money as freebies to the public. Tell me which is better?
There are two women's issues: one is women's security, and the other is women's representation in India's economic progress.
Women's security is extremely important. I wish we could have Delhi Police under Delhi Government, unfortunately that is not the case. What we do have, however, is Closed Circuit Television(CCTV) cameras in Delhi and I am happy to say that today Delhi has become the city with most densely covered CCTV surveillance. We have done what we could. Now, Delhi Police under centre has to do their bit. In Punjab, we have police under us, so I am sure you will see that Punjab will soon be the safest state for women.
The people are watching who is doing what. I have seen Manish Sisodia for the last seven years, get up every single morning and visit government schools. He has changed the entire infrastructure of government schools in Delhi. Tell me, which corrupt person visits schools and does this for children? Which corrupt person makes time for children and invests his efforts in making their future a bright one? Which corrupt person wakes up at 6 am and visits schools to keep a check? A corrupt person will stay up late, drink alcohol, relax till late night and then, wake up late. But here, Manish ji wakes up at 6 am and visits schools. So, we don't need to say anything to these people or respond to their allegations. We do not want to get into arguments and tu-tu-main-main with these people. We will focus on our work and the people are witness to the work we put in.