By Mayank Aggarwal, IANS,
New Delhi : Vijay Kumar Malhotra, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) chief ministerial candidate in Delhi, says it is “absolutely wrong” to implicate Hindus in the Malegaon bombings and insists there is “nothing called Hindu terrorism”. Taking a hard line on an issue bound to figure in upcoming assembly elections, Malhotra said the Maharashtra and central governments had conspired to arrest a Hindu woman ascetic and her associates for the bombing that took place during Ramadan in Malegaon in Maharashtra five months ago killing five Muslims.
Malhotra, a veteran who has been in politics since the 1950s, was asked to comment on Sadhvi Pragya Thakur’s arrest for her suspected involvement in the Malegaon blasts. A handful of former army officers have also been taken into custody.
“This is absolutely wrong. It is a planned move as part of a political strategy during election days,” Malhotra, 76, told IANS in an interview ahead of the Nov 29 balloting for the 70-member Delhi assembly.
“The Maharashtra government, the Intelligence Bureau and the central government had said that SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) is involved in Malegaon,” he said. “Suddenly they felt it should be given another face. That’s why they have done this.”
And he added with a vehemence: “There is nothing called Hindu terrorism.”
Pragya Thakur, also known as Sadhvi Purnachetananandgiri, was once with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student body affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological parent.
Was he surprised when the BJP chose him to be the chief minister candidate if it unseats the Congress in Delhi?
Malhotra answered frankly: “I was in confusion. People even advised me not to take up this chance as I can get a good post in the central government if the BJP comes to power. But the party wanted me to accept the challenge; so I accepted it.”
The Lahore-born was elected Chief Executive Councillor of Delhi in 1967. He has been a member of the Rajya Sabha once and elected to the Lok Sabha four times, beating Manmohan Singh of the Congress — now prime minister — from the South Delhi parliamentary constituency.
Asked if he would scrap the controversial bus corridor in south Delhi called Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system, he replied in the negative though his party has severely criticised it on many grounds.
“The bus corridor was made in a very unscientific and unplanned manner. They (Congress government) have wasted a lot of money. (But) It will not be totally scrapped. It is important to improve it.
“For the Bus Rapid Transit system, the road should be 300 feet wide. If it fulfils such conditions, I have no problem with it.
“They have spent Rs 1.2 billion on the corridor and now they have hired an agency for Rs.800 million to justify it. This is foolish.”
The BJP has also accused the Congress government of corruption while ordering low floor buses for the state-run Delhi Transport Corp (DTC) and demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Malhotra explained: “Low floor buses were bought for Rs.1.6 million in Chennai. The Delhi government bought them for Rs.4.2 million each, and now the new ones are being bought for Rs.5.5 million. These low floor buses are breaking down more often as compared to the earlier DTC buses.”
“We will bring the best of buses to Delhi from the world over,” Malhotra told IANS.
The BJP, which has been out of power in Delhi for 10 long years, has also accused the Delhi government of corruption in electricity privatization. He said if he became chief minister, an inquiry would be conducted and “whoever found responsible, action will be taken”.
“If it be proved that politicians have taken money, then action will be taken against them. If the companies are found responsible, than action will be taken against them.
“The electricity distribution work can come back to Delhi Vidyut Board if nobody else is there,” he added.
Malhotra also criticised the government of Sheila Dikshit for providing provisional certificates to unauthorised colonies to legalise them.
“The Supreme Court has also said that these certificates have no meaning. They even brought (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi into this.”
Malhtora reiterated the BJP’s pledge to work for Delhi’s statehood.
“Powers should be with elected representatives of Delhi and there is no meaning if the powers stay with (the central government).”
He outlined his plans for Delhi’s governance.
“Different cities have different systems. In Tokyo there are nearly 70 local bodies and there is state government too. Delhi also needs at least three local bodies.
“The corporation of Shahdara should be separate, only then development of that area will take place. For the rest of Delhi various committees have recommended formation of two-three local bodies.”
Malhotra favours a policy to keep population growth in check.
“However, the rules for controlling population need to be uniform for all communities,” he said. “Otherwise the balance of population between Hindus and different communities will get disturbed. The balance has already been disturbed.”