Adarsh Shastri is the new elected Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Dwarka constituency of Delhi and Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of IT in Delhi government. Adarsh left his job as the Sales Head at Apple, India and is a now working with a mission of public service through e-governance. He was on a personal visit to US with his family and was meeting AAP supporters in different cities. I caught up with him when he visited Washington DC.
The Q & A
AAP got a big majority in Delhi. What would you say are main factors behind this spectacular victory?
This win is a historic victory in many ways by any political party, either in center or state and we will attribute this victory primarily to the aspect that we were able to communicate the positive agenda of development. We were able to tell people of Delhi how we are going to make their lives better more effectively. We also built our campaign around a very positive agenda; an agenda of new schools, new colleges, education guarantees, health schemes, public wi-fi and so on whereas BJP centered its campaign on negative attacks on Arvind Kejriwal and AAP. These factors made people believe that AAP should be given a chance and an honest alternative needs to continue to exist.
You are part of the ‘Delhi Dialogue’ team. What was your experience in putting together such detailed manifesto and do you think AAP govt will be able to implement all items in this rather long and exhaustive manifesto?
As we observed in last Lok Sabha election, aspiration of the people has changed. People want to clearly know what the parties will do for them. We wanted to present our definitive agenda by looking at various aspects that affect the common people of Delhi. We identified, debated and came up with plans for people of all sections of society, i.e., what 162 villages of Delhi want, what women, students & youth would want, what parents looking to put their child in school would want and came up with this list of promises to them. The process went on for 6-7 months and from this, we were able to come up with 70 point agenda and were able to communicate that effectively to the people.
According to you, what are top three achievements of Delhi government in first 100 days?
Firstly, I am proud to say that out of these 70 promises I talked about, we already implemented 12 of them. If you ask me on key things we have done, first would be the promise of reducing electricity tariffs for the underprivileged, second would be providing life time water supply to every household for free and the third is that big section of Delhi’s population live in unauthorized colonies and starting the process for delimitation and in next few months, regularizing them.
Apart from being MLA of Dwarka, you are also the Parliamentary Secretary of Ministry of IT. What are your visions and plans in that role?
I am looking at it from three key perspectives: first is to bring in real e-governance both internally and externally on how it touches people’s lives. The essence of e-governance and efficiency lies in the fact that citizen services are easy to access and less problematic. Enabling IT-based services will save people’s time wasted by standing in queues and reduce corruption by avoiding bribe demands. Technology can help change people’s lives, be it efficient management of water supply, in terms of power generation, creating an more effective multi-model transports and so on. Wherever technology can play a role, I will be interfacing there.
Wi-Fi in public area is one of the most talked about promise of AAP and you are the point man in its implementation. How is it coming along and when will it be available for public use?
Yes, the glamorous aspect, as I would like to call it, is the implementation of WiFi in public areas, which is also one of our key promises. Why I feel this is important is that like how mobile phones have turned out to be an empowering device in the last decade, I believe bridging the digital divide is going to an important one in empowering youth in terms of offering them equal opportunity. So, I think to provide internet access through wifi is our responsibility and within first year of our government, we should be able to offer wifi services in some areas of all the constituencies.
You are meeting AAP volunteers in different cities in this trip. What do you think about NRI role in AAP’s victory? How are you going to strengthen this relationship?
Firstly, on behalf of party, I want to express the tremendous amount of gratitude for the global NRIs who played a key part in our campaign and are an integral part of AAP family. AAP represents a new alternative, a new ideology, a new political system. NRIs see better politics and governances in the countries they live and want to see it back home as well. To achieve this, many not only supported AAP but actively contributed by involving themselves in calling campaign, fund raising and many other support activities. Party recognizes their contribution and are keen to involve them in future as well. We will soon build an organization for NRI community soon in line with organization in India and will work in more organized fashion.
By Somu Kumar
Image 1 contributed by author