Am no stranger to issues of North-east Delhi: Anand Kumar
New Delhi: JNU professor Anand Kumar, contesting from North-east Delhi on an Aam Aadmi Party ticket, feels people`s yearning for change will ensure his victory in the traditional Congress-stronghold that comprises a significant number of Muslim and SC population.
Kumar, a founding member of AAP, rejects criticism that he is an "outsider" in the area and says he is no stranger to the issues and problems in the constituency.
The 64-year-old professor of sociology says the movement for a strong Janlokpal Bill encouraged him to join hands with Arvind Kejriwal in 2011. He was one of the signatories who appealed to Kejriwal, Anna Hazare and Gopal Rai to end their fast in 2011 and consider providing political alternative to meet people`s aspirations.
"I was interested in entering the political contest as a follow-up of our call to all right thinking people to save the democratic institutions," he says.
Kumar, who is a native of Varanasi and held the post of students` union president in Banaras Hindu University and in JNU, is up against Congress`s sitting MP JP Agarwal and BJP`s Manoj Tiwari.
Kumar, who had won the JNU elections in 1972 defeating current CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat, says water scarcity, erratic electricity supply, poor healthcare facilities and educational infrastructure are some of the major issues facing the North-east Delhi constituency.
Exuding confidence about his victory, Kumar says if elected, he will raise people`s issues inside and outside the Parliament.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Agarwal had won the polls by a huge margin of over 2 lakh votes. The total number of voters in the constituency is over 18 lakh.
Kumar says he has been actively associated with the area since 1996 on issues of youth and gender justice. He had begun his political journey in 1964 and was involved in Ram Manohar Lohia`s socialist movement.
"I am not a stranger to them or to their issues," he says, adding that if not elected he will still fight for the people as an activist.
Asked why the people of North-east Delhi would vote for AAP, Kumar says they are yearning for change and are tired of assurances by both BJP and Congress.
He also ridiculed BJP for fielding actor Tiwari who, he says, has no political background and lives in Mumbai.
"The contrast is obvious between an intellectual from JNU with 30 years of engagement in Delhi politics and the two others," he says.
Kumar`s topmost priority is to make North-east Delhi catch up with rest of the city in terms of infrastructure development and other parameters.
He says he will be coming out with a "micro-manifesto" which will provide the details of his plan for the area.
"North-east Delhi district is the most neglected district of Delhi which is still asking for basic amenities like drinking water, electricity, proper sewage, colleges and security for all.
"Then there is problem of so called unauthorised colonies and Lal Dora villages," he says.
When asked whom he considers his opponent, Tiwari or Agarwal, Kumar says, "I don`t see them as my opponents. I see them as respected competitors."
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