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From the Bharatiya Janata Party’s many allegations on schools run by the Delhi government to the number of seats her party is expected to win, The Quint caught up with the Aam Aadmi Party’s Kalkaji candidate, Atishi to understand why she thinks her party has an edge in elections to the 70-member Delhi Assembly.
The BJP has released videos claiming that Delhi government schools are in bad shape. What’s your response?
Actually, if you look at those videos, they are very interesting and funny. Funny, because they went to two such schools where new buildings have been built and a notice has been posted saying they (old structures) would be demolished and that the school has been shifted. But, they did not show that notice. They went to two other schools where they showed the old buildings but did not show the new construction of classrooms. It’s very clear that the BJP doesn’t have an agenda in this election. Today, the BJP doesn’t have a face that’s why they are resorting to lies.
As many as 500 new schools were promised in 2015 manifesto. But reports say only 30 built so far?
In the beginning, we had asked for a lot of land from the DDA. But when we didn’t get the land, it couldn’t stop us. We wanted to increase capacity of schools and since we couldn’t build new schools, we built new classrooms. In 2015, when our government was formed, there were only 17,000 classrooms across Delhi government schools, built from 1947 to 2015. Just within five years, we built 20,000 new classrooms.
If government schools have become better, do AAP leaders send their kids to Delhi government schools?
A lot of leaders have started sending their children to Delhi government schools. Our Matiala MLA Gulab Singh, he’s put his kids in a government school. Our Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan has also put his kids in government school. But a lot of MLAs have kids who are no longer in the school-going age.
What are your plans for Kalkaji?
Traffic and parking are major issues in this area. And I think a lot of the roads need to be redesigned for that reason. Secondly, in Govindpuri, there are many slums where basic facilities were not therein the last 25 years. While we have improved in the last five years, a lot needs to be done on basic infrastructure like sewage lines, water. I also want to build new schools here.
You lost the East Delhi seat to BJP’s Gautam Gambhir in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. What has changed this time?
The Lok Sabha election was to elect the PM of the country. People wanted to see who is the person who is going to lead the country and become prime minister. This is the election for the chief minister of Delhi and there is no other face than Arvind Kejriwal.
Who’s your main competitor?
The Congress is nowhere in Delhi elections. No survey has been able to give them double-digits. Congress vote share is between 6-8%. There is a straight fight in Delhi between BJP and AAP. But clearly AAP has an upper hand because despite having tall leaders in Delhi, they (BJP) are not ready to project anyone against Kejriwal.
How many seats will AAP win?
We got 67 seats last time.Hope to get more this time.