AAP’s national spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj, who will soon be joining the Delhi cabinet as a minister, said that the city’s population has risen manifold since 1994 but its water share has remained unchanged and asked the Centre to increase it.
Bhardwaj said the priorities of the AAP government are infrastructure and providing clean water to the residents in Delhi, apart from education and health.
“We are trying to beautify stretches of Delhi with street furniture and creation of walking and sitting spaces. At 10 places, one-kilometre-long stretches have been redeveloped. Now the plan is to extend it to the rest of Delhi,” he told PTI in an interview.
Bhardwaj, who is also the vice-chairman of the Delhi Jal Board, said they have promised that before the next election, Yamuna will be cleaned.
“The sewage that goes into Yamuna we will trap it and through different sewage treatment plants and release clean water into the river. Human waste flows into drains from all unauthorised colonies and then from those drains, it flows into the Yamuna. It is not only against environmental norms but all the waste goes into a pious river,” he said.
Apart from ensuring a clean Yamuna, another issue that Delhi is grappling with is limited sources of water.
“It is something (water share of Delhi) that was decided in 1994 and since then the population has grown. We have requested the Centre that our share of water should be in proportion to the population.
“See, it is not Delhi’s population. Delhi is a mini-India where people from other states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Bihar have settled. So we should get that share of water from India. We have been asking the Centre for it,” he explained.
The senior leader said that as a minister, his priorities will be to make government departments more accountable to the people and ensure greater convenience in the public-government interface.
Bhardwaj and Atishi’s names were sent by the Delhi government to LG VK Saxena for their elevation as Cabinet ministers, following the resignations of Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain, who were arrested in different cases of alleged corruption.
The 43-year-old reminisced about the time before he joined India Against Corruption where he had fixed offs and a work-life balance.
“I went into India Against Corruption movement when IT was booming. I was earning good money, there was a work-life balance.
“Whenever we travelled, we stayed in five-star hotels. I have worked in Hyderabad, Milwaukee in Wisconsin, the US, and Gurugram. Then, I got invested in India Against Corruption. I met people there, registered as a volunteer, and then the party was registered on November 26, 2012. I am also one of the founding members of the party,” he said.
But what made him quit his job? The AAP leader replied: “It was no more exciting. I thought working as a social activist would be a good forum to meet people, make governments and departments accountable and probably change the way governance happens.” “We had very wild ideas regarding decentralisation of governance. We were an unconventional party since there were people from all walks of life,” he asserted.
The engineer-turned-politician also looked back at Aam Admi Party’s journey from its inception and the road bumps it hit on its path to becoming a national party last year.
AAP has faced many challenges since its inception, he said. In 2013, when they contested their first election, there was a sting operation that tried to cast aspersions on leaders Kumar Vishwas and Shazia Ilmi who were a part of the party at that time, he recalled.
“Then there was pressure on us to form a government with the Congress and when we did so, there was a pressure on as to why we did it… We had fought against Congress but then aligned with them. Later, we resigned from the government,” he said.
He said the period between 2013 to 2015 was especially challenging.
“Arvind Kejriwal contested against Modiji from Varanasi in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. A lot of people, after Modiji became Prime Minister, developed a dislike for Kejriwal ji and said that you left the government in Delhi to contest polls,” he said.
“People said that now AAP is done for and there is no comeback. Then we won the 2015 Delhi elections with a humongous mandate of 67 seats,” he said.
He said the party has time and again proved its detractors wrong with its performance.
“We contested the Punjab elections in 2017 and got a few seats. Then everyone said we are a municipal party that is just restricted to Delhi and even in Delhi we won’t come back to power.
“We came to power in 2020 again and then we never looked back. We formed a government in Punjab, and won seats in Gujarat and Goa,” he said.
Bhardwaj has represented Greater Kailash Assembly assembly constituency since 2013.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)