Once an area councillor, thrice an MLA and now a sitting MP from West Delhi constituency, Mahabal Mishra is one of those influential names in Congress which have reinforced party’s existence in Delhi time and again. In an exclusive interview to Tarun Khanna of Zee Media Corp ahead of upcoming Assembly polls, Mishra talks about his future agenda, opponents, prevailing issues in his constituency and controversies surrounding Congress. Excerpts:
Q: How has West Delhi changed during your tenure?
Mahabal Mishra: There are plenty of changes, but to name a few there has been major development in terms of medical, educational, transportation, infrastructural and tourism facilities. Also, medical facilities, including number of beds, have significantly improved in our hospitals. Earlier, there were less educational institutions, but now we have IP University, Guru Gobind Singh University, Deen Dayal Upadhyay College and Kendriya Vidyalayas. We have also constructed Dilli Haat in West Delhi with a total cost of Rs 80 crore, which is scheduled to be inaugurated in December after elections. Many new roads have also been laid and big drains have been covered. And, these are not false claims as I have enough proof to show all the development work we have done.
Q: What is your agenda for your constituency?
Mahabal Mishra: I’ve got a proposal approved from the Delhi Cabinet for extension of Kakrola-Najafgarh metro route in Phase III of the Delhi Metro project. Besides this, I have also got 250 low-floor buses sanctioned for West Delhi and planning to upgrade the transportation as far as possible. Other than this, providing LPG pipelines in maximum houses (wherever it is technically possible) is my foremost priority. We are also working on providing better roads and we will achieve the target quite soon.
Q: Besides BJP, the AAP has emerged as strong contender this time. Do you think the two parties would cut down Congress votes in Delhi polls?
Mahabal Mishra: We are not at all worried. People will vote on the basis of development they have seen and not under somebody’s influence. Our MLAs have done praiseworthy job in the capital. The origin of AAP was a betrayal in itself. They started a movement along with Anna Hazare for a righteous cause, but later that crusade disappeared somewhere. Now, only political interest lies within its members.
BJP doesn’t have a fixed face for Delhi. It keeps changing its candidates. From Madan Lal Khurana, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Vijay Jolly to Vijay Goel and Dr Harshvardhan, we have seen them all. There is no constant name Delhi can rely on.
Q: Illegal water connection has been an issue in many areas of West Delhi. What action is being taken at your end in this regard?
Mahabal Mishra: Well, I completely deny that illegal water connection is anymore an issue in my constituency. After the regularisation of 895 unauthorised colonies, the number of such issues has reduced to a huge extent. But yes, I admit that 30 percent water-related problems are yet to be solved. We are working on 50 MGD UGR in Dwarka. As soon as the work gets over, 30 percent water issue will be solved.
Q: You are also a Member of Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas and Consultative Committee on Power. Due to exorbitant hike in fuel prices and power tariff in the recent past, do you think Delhi Congress will lose votes?
Mahabal Mishra: We are ready to have a debate on this matter with proper facts and figures. Delhi’s power tariff is less than other Congress or non-Congress states. Power tariff on 184 unit of electricity is Rs 1,010 in Ahemdabad, but in Delhi the tariff on the same unit is Rs 850. In Haryana, tariff on 120 units is Rs 612, while here we pay Rs 590. In Maharashtra, 191 units tariff is Rs 1,120, in Delhi it is Rs 690. So, if we`ll evaluate overall power tariff in the country per unit, Delhi is better off. Those who are claiming to bring down tariff without affecting the power supply are just deceiving everyone.
Q: Since Congress is mired in a number of scams, do you think the party has less chances to come back to power this time?
Mahabal Mishra: Opposition and critics keep on making allegations, but wisely speaking, we cannot come to any conclusion till those allegations are proved. As I said earlier, people are sensible enough and will first evaluate everything on their own and then decide on something. Congress is not a new party, but has been trusted by people of the country for decades.
Q: Purvanchalis have been a strongpoint in your win. What are your plans for them as they are considered as good vote bank?
Mahabal Mishra: Purvanchalis are no more considered as immigrants. They are equally contributing in the development of the city. Due to efforts made by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Chhat Puja is organised in a grand way every year. Development proposals for the areas Purvanchalis are inhabiting are also being mulled.