In a special interview with recently suspended AAP Patiala MP- Dr Dharamvira Gandhi. Daily Post Senior Staff Correspondent Jagdeep Chopra covers Gandhi’s initial start in the party, his contributions to his constituency, his views about Modi, Kejriwal, AAP’s future in Punjab.
What were the reasons that had prompted you to join Aam Aadmi Party?
Earlier, Punjab has seen two-party rule – Shiromani Akali Dal alongside Bharatiya Janata Party and also Congress. Corruption as well nepotism have badly affected our democratic system and people feel suffocated due to it. But the turning point came when Anna Hazare started the Andolan against corruption in New Delhi and a ray of hope was seen and I along with a large number of people here in the state became a part of that Andolan with the aim to clean the ‘dirty system’. Later, people like Arvind Kejriwal, Parshant Bhushan, Yoginder Yadav and Dr Kiran Bedi emerged at the centre-stage and through their untiring efforts, Aam Aadami Party was born. My main aim was to provide a clean set-up to the people and work for the progress and development of Patiala constituency area as a whole.
Then why did you get annoyed with the party leadership who elected you as an MP?
I joined AAP with a view that this party would deliver as per the expectations of the people and the people will get relief from corruption and other social stigmas but my dreams were shattered as I found nothing pro-people in the party. The party over a period shifted its focus and started running off-track when Arvind Kejriwal turned a dictator and started running the party through his own ‘yes men’. The party has turned into a corporate house as it has nothing in its kitty like other political outfits – no political, economical, social agendas, no foreign policy, no vision for the country. Though it claims to be a political party, it lacks the inner democracy and nobody is allowed to raise his or her voice or to express his or her views so its Arvind Kejriwal’s dictatorship in the party which he is trying to run in an autocratic way. Basically, these are the main reasons that forced me to reconsider my decision. I ask what has AAP done for the eradication of corruption? More so, voices have started coming out against inter-party corruption as money is being exchanged at one or the other front.
So far, what contributions have you made to Patiala’s development?
I am here to serve my people as they have failed to get anything on development front since long. So far I have taken up three projects for my constituency area and got the nod from the Union Government for the same. These projects include doubling of Rajpura-Bathinda via Patiala rail link at a cost of Rs 1,720 crore, another Rs 200-crore project for the electrification of this rail track and a rail link from Rajpura to Mohali at a cost of Rs 406 crore. The work over these projects has been initiated and soon it is going to get momentum and once it is through, Patiala will be on a direct link with other stations and direct access to Chandigarh and New Delhi and this will ultimatelly boost the trade.
How do you assess the role of your predecessor Preneet Kaur as an MP as she represented this constituency thrice?
I am nobody to say anything on this as it’s the people of this constituency who have evaluated her working and contributions as an MP and later gave verdict against her and elected me in place of her as their representative. If she had done something for the constituency, she would not have been shown the door like this and I believe people are the best judges.
What is your dream for Patiala Lok Sabha constituency?
I want to roll my report card as the time is running short as more than two years out of five-year-term have passed and my mission is to deliver as much as I can for my constituency area and for this I am running from pillar to post and taking over new projects. My main aim now is to get any biggest heavy industrial development project for Patiala as after DCW (now DMW) Patiala failed to get any such project, but I am making efforts to get something bigger for Patiala so that our youngsters will get a chance to get employment. Besides this, I am trying to get a Regional Passport Office for Patiala so that the people can get their passports here itself and do not have to travel long distance to Chandigarh.
How has your performance been in the Lok Sabha so far?
I tried to do justice to my duties as an MP and so far my attendance in the Lok Sabha is above 50 per cent during which I took part in 25 debates in the house and raised 70 questions. Important among my contributions are presentation of the Sikh Marriage Amendment Act, 2015 and the NDPS Amendment Act, 2016.
As you are no longer associated with AAP, what other options are you exploring?
I am not an Independent MP and the people of Patiala Lok Sabha area elected me over Preneet Kaur and I am very much here to deliver my best and serve my people. It’s not going to affect me if the party takes a harsh step against me. For now, focus is on working for my people.
As you have attended some of the functions of Swaraj Party, do you feel it is a better party than AAP?
So far, it seems to take the honest path in Punjab and if the party sticks to these values, then it will definitely do some miracle in the assembly elections becuase people like Yoginder Yadav have the right vision but they will have to work hard to make their place among the people of the state and provide them with good opportunities.
There is a big hue and cry in the state over drug abuse. What is your take on the issue?
The government has failed to curb this evil. I had presented NDPS Amendment Act, 2016 Bill in which I had demanded strict action against those using syenthetic and hard drugs as they rot the organs really fast. It is the duty of the government to discourage the drug abuse with the help of the law.
You come from a medical background. How do you see a medical social reformer converting into a politician and how do you manage your profession ?
It has not affected my profession in any way as I still enjoy being a heart specialist. Besides, I am also continuing with my work as a social worker. Primarily, everything is going smoothly through minor adjustments and I am eager to serve the people through both the professions.
How do you assess the working of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as compared to others?
So far he has failed to do anything for the common man and has only taken interest in the big corporate houses in the country and abroad. The country is facing huge problems like unemployment, poverty and inflation due to sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities. The people feel cheated. The gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider by the day and ‘acche din’ seem to be a distant dream.
How do you assess Arvind Kejriwal’s performance as AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister?
Arvind Kejriwal may have done one or two things but he is a failure on all fronts as he is trying to run the system through dictatorship and if it was up to me, I would have thrown him out of the party. It is because of him, the party has shifted its focus from eradicating corruption and has itself got involved in this. Though the party is getting money in the name of ‘funds’ from abroad as well, Kejriwal has been denying the party has any money.
Is AAP capable of standing against the SAD-BJP alliance and Congress in the forthcoming assembly elections?
No. AAP has lost the oppurtunity as for the last three to four months, its credibillity among the people has declined and it is due to the party leaving behind its principles and honesty and absolutely has no vision. It’s following the Imperalistic tendencies.
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