Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
"The people of Manipur are turning violent, there are crimes against humanity, crimes against women. If these issues are not discussed in the Parliament, where will they be discussed? And is the Opposition asking for a lot? Have we demanded for the moon and the stars? Or have we demanded assets and properties?" said Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Raghav Chadha at Delhi's Punjab Bhawan while caught in a logjam of party meetings and the ongoing stormy Parliament session.
The suspension of fellow Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh weighed heavily on his mind, with the party still falling just short of numbers in the Upper House to block the NCT Ordinance Bill.
While the Monsoon Session continues to be washed out over a discussion on Manipur, the INDIA alliance parties have now moved a no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
"The more the BJP government delays the discussion, the more it leads to suspicions as to what this government is trying to hide," Chadha said.
In a conversation with The Quint, Raghav Chadha talks about the logjam in the Parliament, the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) failure in Manipur, the politics around the Delhi ordinance, and the 'INDIA' alliance.
'Badi Badi Baatein'. This term can be construed in a lot of ways. According to you, who does 'Badi Badi Baatein' (makes tall claims) in this country?
There's a difference between making tall claims and actually doing something. The Prime Minister is the one making lots of tall claims these days. But he does not speak on Manipur. The PM has been doing 'Mann Ki Baat' for years but now he should speak on Manipur in the Parliament.
There's a lot of ruckus in the Parliament over Manipur. Sanjay Singh has been suspended. The government says that it is ready for a discussion on Manipur. Then why is here ruckus and what led to this suspension?
The Opposition has been unitedly asking the Rajya Sabha chairperson that there should be a discussion on Manipur which is an integral part of this country and is a border state, has been burning for the past 80 days. The barbaric events and their visuals coming from there have shaken the country's conscience. There should be a debate and discussion on Manipur but the government does not want that and hence, the Parliament is not being allowed to function. The Opposition is demanding it every day. I myself have given a notice every day since the Monsoon session has commenced. Our notices were not accepted on any of the days. You have to understand that if the Parliament, which is the temple of democracy, needs to discuss the atrocities and internal disturbance in that state.
The people are turning violent, there are crimes against humanity, crimes against women. If these issues are not discussed in the Parliament, then where will they be discussed? And is the Opposition asking for a lot? Have we demanded for the moon and the stars? Or have we demanded for assets and properties? And the more the BJP government delays the discussion, the more it leads to suspicions as to what this government is trying to hide.
AAP has been demanding President's Rule in the state. Will it solve the issues or will it only increase the problems?
There are two very important Articles of the Indian Constitution - Article 355 and Article 356. Article 355 says that it is the central government's responsibility that every state is calm and peaceful. If there is any state which is facing internal disturbance or external aggression - like a hostile nation or external force which attacks it - and it leads to disruption of peace in the state, it is the Centre's responsibility to restore peace and protect that state. The Centre has violated Article 355 because it has failed to protect Manipur and restore peace there.
The next is Article 356 which speaks about President's Rule. What is the procedure for it? If the Governor tells the Centre or the President that the state's law and order and constitutional machinery has broken down, there should be President's Rule in the state.
The Manipur Governor is a woman. She has been giving statements to the news channels, radio, newspapers that Manipur is burning. She has also been saying that she has apprised the Centre of the situation in Manipur.
Despite the Governor's requests, the President's Rule has not been imposed on Manipur and by non-compliance, the government has violated Article 356. Imagine, if Manipur had the Congress, AAP, TMC, NCP, Samajwadi Party, DMK or any other Opposition government, would President's Rule had not been imposed by now?
You used the term non-compliance buy the Central government. It takes us to the Delhi Ordinance Bill and the case against it in the Supreme Court. The fight the Delhi government in the SC and the Parliament against it is ongoing. The Opposition has numbers in the Rajya Sabha to block the ordinance but they might not be enough. Some big players like BSP, BJD, YSRCP will decide the fate of the ordinance. Have they given any indication as to which way they will lean?
We have knocked all doors and via your channel, I would like to appeal to the BJP once again that this black ordinance is not just against Delhi's AAP government but against the country's democracy and the Constitution.
If the parties advocate for democracy, want to protect it, and uphold the Constitution, all should come together and defeat this ordinance. This ordinance is just an experiment in Delhi. If this experiment is successful in Delhi, it will be implemented in other non-BJP-ruled states. We will have to be vigilant and defeat this ordinance in the House. Next course of action will be decided after the Bill is tabled in the Parliament and how the voting takes place.
If this is passed in the Rajya Sabha, will the AAP totally rely on the Supreme Court for a resolution?
Firstly, this Bill should not be introduced in the Parliament at all. The introduction of it is lawfully impermissible and I have written a letter to the Chairperson regarding the same. It is impermissible because, this was brought to reverse the SC verdict. No SC verdict can be overturned with a law because the basis of the Supreme Court judgment has to be changed for it. Only when you change the basis can a SC verdict be overturned. This is a big Constitutional mistake being made. Second, any law is made to enforce the Articles of the Constitution. This law demolishes article 239AA of the Constitution. So, it is unconstitutional.
Third, why this Bill cannot be tabled is because the matter is still being heard in the SC. The SC wants to form a Constitutional bench, the matter is sub judice. So, there should not be a discussion on this anyway. The Bill can be brought after the SC gives any verdict. If the SC finds it constitutional, it can be introduced then.
Speaking of attack on the Constitution - it is one of the reasons given to form the Opposition alliance 'INDIA' of which the AAP is very much an integral and a very important part of. We know what the INDIA alliance is fighting against. But what do you think the India alliance will offer to the country which the BJP cannot in terms of governance?
This country is facing lots of big challenges like inflation, price rise, unemployment, crony capitalism, etc. There are lots of social and economic challenges. Now, there is a treat to national security given what Manipur is going through and the BJP has miserable failed at providing law and order, security, peace, and harmony to the state of Manipur.
In order to solve this array of challenges and make a blueprint of an India of today's age, this alliance has been formed by all political parties. Some of these partners might have had differences in the past in the political arena. There have been clashes in the past and many have contested elections against each other.
But all have forgotten their differences of opinion, differences of views, and their ambitions and come under the umbrella of the India alliance to save the country and get rid of this government.
Speaking of the INDIA alliance - surveys and analysts have shown that Congress voters have shifted to AAP over the years. Similarly, there are those who want the AAP in Delhi and the Modi-led BJP government at the Centre. By entering the INDIA alliance, which the Congress is a part of, is there a risk of alienating either of those voters?
The analysis cannot be this simplistic in politics. When AAP wins in Delhi, it wins with over 54-57% votes which means that people affiliated to all parties, castes, communities, religion, age, and gender cast their votes. So, this cannot be seen from the perspective of the Congress or the BJP. Second, 2024 elections can be compared to the elections in the 1970s.
In 1971, when the Bangladesh liberation took place, Indira Gandhi was the prime minister. She was popular and powerful. But in the mid-70s, there were issues of price rise and unemployment, following which several political parties came together to raise the voices of the people. Those parties were polar opposites when it came to their ideologies.
The Jan Sangh, communists, socialists, and other regional parties came under one umbrella to form the Janata Party and one common candidate contested against Indira Gandhi. We all know what the result was. The Janata Party alliance got over 295 seats and formed the government. So, whenever the country is looking for an alternative, it wants Opposition parties to come together and defeat the government that is drunk on power. Eventually, more people join hands and so on.
To what extent is the AAP willing to work together, taking all issues and differences into consideration?
The way things move ahead, we will let you know where the alliance goes. An alliance does not mean we have to agree upon everything. The view of two people don't need to match. We are not talking about uniformity, we are talking about diversity.
Sometimes, having differing views in a room leads to the best outcomes. Every aspect gets discussed and a consensus is reached. But broadly, the INDIA alliance has been formed to resolve the issues the people and the country are facing daily, and will work unitedly.
Because you spoke about diversity and multiple views in one room, as a leader do you see any positives in the BJP and the Congress?
Every political party has its strengths and weaknesses. There are people in those parties from whom you learn a lot. Be it Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Sonia Gandhi, every party's leader has good qualities.
I entered India's politics at a very young age and my party leader Arvind Kejriwal gave me big responsibilities. I have learnt a lot from many astute politicians, I hear about them and I read about them.
Anybody you look forward to or are impressed by in the Opposition alliance?
I am impressed by a lot of people, why name only one? If I name one, a few other might get upset.
When we spoke the last time, I introduced you as one of the most eligible bachelors. But that is not the case anymore and congratulations for that. Has life changed after the engagement? Do people see you differently? Do party colleagues see you differently?
Well, I think we should restrict this conversation to political alliances and not personal alliances. But yes, most certainly, my colleagues and co-workers in the party tease me a little less. They would always ask when I'll be getting married. Now they tease me less as they know I am about to get married.