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Former MP Sandeep Dikshit along with two party brothers and former Delhi ministers, Mangat Ram Singhal and Kiran Walia, recently wrote to Delhi Governor VK Saxena, demanding a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention of Terrorism) Act (UAPA) into the “wire and spying” charges of the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government’s now-defunct Response Unit (FBU). Son of former Delhi CM late Sheila Dikshit, Sandeep is a two-time MP from East Delhi. In an interview with Indian Express, he spoke on various burning issues pertaining to Delhi affairs as well as national politics. Offense:
The Central Bank’s investigation into the FBU case is already continuing. What was the need for you, Singhal and Walia to file another complaint in the case?
I took this step as an MP of Delhi and especially as a citizen of Delhi. Let’s say we look at this from the point of view of the law on bearing arms – both you and I, as citizens, have the right to bear arms; but at the same time, there are other laws that prohibit us from taking our guns into, for example, the Prime Minister’s Office or Alþingi. It all comes down to what is permitted by law. In this case, the Delhi government has no constitutional or administrative mandate for such a unit, to have access to such tools that enable them to spy on individuals. This is not only an example of jeopardizing national security but also an excess outside the mandate of the Delhi government.
Former Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, who was the then Vigilance Minister when the FBU was created in 2015, is already behind bars in the Delhi Excise case. Why have you demanded action against the entire Delhi government in the FBU case?
Suppose the Delhi government decides to raise an army tomorrow – something it is neither legally allowed to do and also affects national security – can it be allowed to do so just on the basis of what the government decides? They purchased and used equipment intended for espionage, including political espionage—which they are prohibited by law and by the Constitution—while endangering national security. Other cabinet members did not object, even officials allowed them to go ahead and use such equipment. This is anti-national activity, a clear case of rebellion. The Chief Minister (Kejriwal) and the entire government should be behind bars (for FBU).
Will this complaint not affect the possibility of AAP and Congress forming a common front against the BJP for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?
I cannot answer this question on behalf of the party but as far as Delhi is concerned the Congress has a clear and balanced policy that there is no difference between AAP and BJP. AAP is no less communal or authoritarian than BJP – there is no difference between them when it comes to media abuse and institutional corruption either. We are aware that all parties aligned with AAP are ideologically aligned with BJP and most of us in Delhi believe that any tie-up with AAP will be an ideological hara-kiri. Questions of larger political significance regarding the merger with AAP will come later but at the same time, what we are aware of is that we do not have a leg to stand on in the city if we want to counter the BJP effectively, if we come together with them ( AAP).
But the Congress and the AAP have consistently shared space on the national stage. So, is this stance limited to Delhi because AAP built the foundation of its politics by discrediting the 15-year Sheila Dikshit regime?
I am not currently an active participant in city or state affairs, but I will say that personal attacks on individuals do not dictate the larger strategic decisions of a political party. What the party decides to do in terms of national inauguration is its decision and will be revealed in time. But at the same time, some questions need to be answered before deciding to get together with them. I would like to ask the Congress leaders who may feel the urgency (need) to form a joint national inauguration with AAP: Are we consistent with AAP’s allegations against Mrs. (Sonia) Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid, Mrs. Dikshit and , although he is not a member of the party, (Robert) Vadra? Are we on the side of AAP despite its policy of attacking the Congress, Rahul Gandhi and Mrs Gandhi, as and when it pleases and then retreating just as quickly? I want to ask such leaders if they remember an instance of AAP apologizing for all this once, apart from being a liar.
So are you ruling out a joint Congress-AAP performance against BJP’s progress at the national level?
Time will tell what the party decides to do from a national perspective. But regardless of the Congress’ policy towards the AAP in Delhi, political parties have, and can, come together on larger issues when no choice is left. Suppose there is a war – will not all political parties in the country align with the national interest? BJP, Congress, AAP, Left, all the regional parties, even RSS – all of us will form a common front to face the situation. That said, the question that needs to be asked about AAP – of all political parties – is why it is not active in states where the Congress is not active. Before AAP came to power, and even after, every political leader across political lines was corrupt; all that rhetoric is gone now that they are looking for significant space within the opposition.
The AAP has alleged that all cases against it allegedly stem from a “deliberate witch-hunt” by the BJP-led Centre. Do you agree with AAP on this?
For many years, since AAP came to power, we have taken to the streets against the corruption of the AAP government and highlighted it. Our Delhi chapter has staged more demonstrations and protests against the scams and illegalities of the AAP government than against issues related to the Centre. For example, when it comes to the liquor policy scam, we are the original complainants in the matter – the Delhi Assembly has continuously sought action against the AAP government for two years, in the face of clear corruption in the (liquor) policy but the Lieutenant Governor did nothing. Everyone knew that illegal money collected through it was pumped into Punjab and Gujarat in the run-up to the (Assembly) elections there. The criminal probe into the excise policy scam is not an example of the BJP being vindictive against the AAP, but of the BJP government at the center failing to act in time.