Sandeep Dikhsit, 49, is a Congress MP from East Delhi constituency from where he will be seeking re-election for the 16thLokSabha. He has also worked as the Deputy Chief Whip and then the Chief Whip. Before he joined politics he headed a social development group. He hails from a political family. His mother Sheila Dikshit was the long-serving CM of Delhi and his grandfather Uma Shankar Dikshit was a freedom fighter closely associated with Jawaharlal Nehru.
10 years ago East Delhi was considered this back and beyond place in Delhi. We were suffering on 3-4 fronts. One was infrastructure.There were large areas that were unsewered and therefore, they had sanitation and cleanliness issues. Third was, our parks and greenery was pretty low. There have been some major achievements.
We don’t have too much land, we got a high population ratio. I think three times compared to rest of Delhi.The only place where we have some land available for big infrastructure is between the VikasMarg and Noida borders. But there also slowly things are coming up and we are also keen that breathing spaces in East Delhi remain.
If the government is willing, then it doesn’t matter which party. But it does matter when they bring politics in because I’m saddened by the fact that once the government got removed the mono rail project got shelved. I mean it’s a project ready to start implementing. I mean you take the credit for it if you really want the credit. You go and do the foundation stone for it, don’t call the MP. It’s unfortunate. Ultimately, people suffer. You push the project back by 6 months. Six months delay in government actually means 3-4 years delay.
I don’t want to make it a political issue but Municipal Corporation work is not satisfactory. Of course, we are also not people who are good with sanitation. We put solid waste into naalis. We dump stuff wherever we want. Our malba which comes from our housing construction is put on the roads. It blocks everything. So people have a part to play, but even then the kind of alacrity with which Corporation should actually clean stuff just isn’t there.
Women policemen are not the solution. I have not seen women policemen being more sensitive to women. Maybe if there are 30% of them, 40% of them that might make a difference. But in my experience when I have seen them frisking women, I have seen them dealing with women during political agitations, I have seen them talking to girls when they have a problem, I have seen them dealing with people in thanas. I am not talking of senior officers, but at the operational level women policemen are not particularly different from male policemen. I think it’s probably the matter of culture of the organization, the norms that have come, their practices, their behaviours, their attitudes. I think that needs to change.
The victims of 1984 riots initially came to me very, very aggressively. But over time we have been able to help them out. In some places Home Ministry, Government of India was very dogged about it so we got the Delhi government to become more sensitive. When they went to court the government helped them out. As regards to compensation, there are still about 20-25 cases, which I know personally that are remaining. Maybe there will be more.
One thing that Muslims are looking for is access to the vast resources they have got in terms of scholarships, in terms of bank loans etc through the Sachar Committee Report – that has been taken on in southern India much more. There’s very little reach in Delhi or Northern India.
I was, fortunately or unfortunately, the Deputy Chief Whip and then the Chief Whip, which means my parliamentary duties become severe. That cut off a lot of my time from public contact this time but we still do manage to reach out to people on the ground. But formal communication through electronic media or through visual media or through print media has not been as effectively because I really don’t know what are the mechanisms by which we can do that which are cost effective. Perhaps with growing media more local newspapers coming in, I think that gap in future may get reduced.
Sure, Kejriwal is attacking Modi. But please remember, he has attacked Modi only on his development agenda, not a single word about the principle objection to Modi, which is the 2002 riots.That is because secularism is not on their agenda. We are first challenging Modi on what his idea of India is. How will he look at humanity? Does he really believe that all of us have equal rights? And if he does, what did he do in 2002? Or what is he doing subsequent to that?
My only basic concern about social media is that it doesn’t look at the authenticity of a claim. I’ve been a social science student and I’ve been brought up in a tradition that any claim has to be backed by logic and by facts, or by authority. But here a claim or a statement is a true statement unless proven otherwise. I don’t know how seriously to counter that. Because I can’t fathom the mind of a person who takes any information at face value.
You cannot take over people’s lives and give them everything on a platter. Maybe to an extent if you take recourse to cheap populism. AAP told people, “Your life is slightly difficult because everyone is corrupt and therefore if we will get honest people there, then your life will become super easy”. Life is not difficult or superbly easy just because of the government. It is because of circumstances, it is because of the economy, it is because of society, it is because of international issues. And they had a very, very simplistic idea because most people are simple. But parties and governments can’t be simple.