Congress failed to connect with the people, says ex-Badli MLA Devendra Yadav

Abhijeet Thakur/ iamin

​A hardcore Congress loyalist, Devendra Yadav is a two-time councillor and two-time MLA from Badli assembly constituency. Although his supporters consider him above party and say they will vote for him even if he contests independent, Yadav insists that his party is his identity and even his fore fathers were Congress leaders.

He was the lone MLA to return his five-month salary in August 2014 following the Supreme Court's observation that Delhi's MLAs were getting salaries without working since the suspension of the assembly.

Popular for his generosity and connection with the people in his constituency, Yadav is a young congress leader who has his own plans for development of his constituency.

In an exclusive chat with iamin, he talks about his plans, strategy for the upcoming assembly elections, and the reason behind his party's consistent failure. 

You managed to give your best performance by winning 2013 assembly polls from Badli with a margin of more than 23,000 votes when it was the worst ever performance of Congress in Delhi. Do you think your personal image worked above the party image last election?

People voted me because of my work. I have an image of development oriented MLA in the constituency and that really worked for me but that doesn’t mean I am above party. I am always available and accessible for my people and so they trust me.  

Looking at the results of general elections 2014 and the recent assembly polls in other states where the Congress is consistently losing its ground, chances of winning for your party seem very low. Your take on this.

I accept that BJP swept us in the general elections and the effect of Lok Sabha polls works for the winning side for some time thus BJP did well in the assembly polls too, but Delhi assembly polls are different from that of others. Looking at the governance of AAP and the politics of BJP, Delhi people are again remembering the Congress party and they are ready to support us this time.

You were among those lucky seven who managed to win last time. What according to you was lacking in your party or your fellow party candidates? Do you accept that Sheila Dikshit government did not meet expectations of the people?

Our party ruled for 15 years and there was an incumbency factor for sure after such a long tenure. Our other MLAs also did good job but they failed to communicate affectively with the people. Maintaining connections with the people is very important. Apart from work I always focus on connecting with the people and listen to their problems and issues. Shiela Dixit government brought the Capital city back on development track and I don’t think that the government did not meet expectations of the people.

BJP government has announced regularization of unauthorized colonies in Delhi cutting a substantial vote bank. You have 32 unauthorized colonies in your constituency, don't you think it can hurt your chances of winning?

I don’t think so. The condition of unauthorized colonies in my constituency has changed and become comparatively better since 2008. Some of them like Rajeev Nagar and Shradhanand Colony are already 85 percent developed. BJP has announced regularization but have they announced any special package or blue print for the development of these colonies?

The condition of resettlement colonies and JJ clusters are pathetic in your constituency. Public toilets, drainage system and cleanliness are major issues which according to the residents are long pending. Do you have a separate plan for them as they remain ignored?

If you had visited these colonies in 2008 then you would agree that the conditions have improved a lot. I do not say that they are living in good condition but the condition is comparatively better now than it was before 2008.

The by-lanes of all the resettlement colonies have been given concrete coating. It was me who installed illegal boring in the JJ clusters to ensure availability of water in 2008. Later on the legal water supply connections were installed. I had allotted the fund for the construction of community hall that is being constructed. Many development work work is in progress and if voted to power I can ensure that within one and a half year, every colony in my constituency will be developed.

What are your major achievements as a legislator on the basis of which you will garner votes from your constituency?  

Metro connectivity to the villages like Badli, Samaypur, Siraspur, Libaspur and all other neighbouring villages; the project of sewerage connection in unauthorized colonies, improvement of health services in Babu Jagjivan Ram Hospital Jahangirpuri, construction of roads, extension of school buildings are my major achievements, but there are also many more that I have done for my constituency.

What according to you are the biggest issues in your constituency and if voted to power what will be in your priority list?

The work of sewage connectivity is already in progress for which I had passed a project worth 85 crores. I will make sure that it is completed on time and the issue of water logging in the colonies is permanently solved. Shifting of JJ clusters in resettlement flats being constructed and the third is the construction of a big hospital in Siraspur. The land for the proposed hospital had been allotted more than 10 years back, but the project is still pending due to some clearance issues.

The Congress has become untouchable for voters ? Are you sure about your victory?

Congress has not become untouchable for voters. Yes, for some manipulative media houses it has become for sure. Today people are missing congress government in Delhi and wait till the election results come, everything will be clear then. I am pretty sure about our victory.

Who according to you is your biggest competitor? AAP or BJP? How would you counter them?

Public can answer this question better than me. For me I will seek votes for the work I have done. I do not believe in mudslinging and criticizing my opponent. I welcome them if they can point out my mistakes and prove them.

Do you wish to play a larger role in the party or state if your party comes to power again?

Who doesn’t want to? Yes, but at an appropriate time. Before me there are other people who are senior to me so it depends on the decision of the party leader.

Your constituency has Bhalaswa Lake, the biggest lake in the capital city, and a 14-hole golf course adjacent to it which could be developed as a tourist destination. People blame that no government has paid attention to that. Do you have a plan to revamp it?

During my tenure, road to the lake and golf course had been constructed. I took this initiative once and talked to DDA officials to handover the maintenance of the golf course and lake to a private company but we did not get any cooperation from the DDA. The condition of the lake, however, has improved and the park around the lake is cleaner now. But I ensure that things will better in the coming time.

How will you improve the quality of education in your constituency? Do you have something to offer to the young voters?

A DDA land between the JJ colony of Metro Apartment and ITI colony in Jahangirpuri had been earmarked for the construction of a college but the work has not been started yet. I have raised the issue with DDA and Directorate of Higher Education, I also went to the LG who forwarded the matter to Directorate of Higher Education but they said it will take time. They have given positive response and my priority will be to see that the project starts soon this year.