Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who is under the scanner for his role in Delhi’s excise policy and the education controversy joins News18’s Rupashree Nanda in the BR Ambedkar School of Specialised Excellence, Kalkaji. BR Ambedkar School is one of the model schools of the Delhi government and boasts of many facilities like a table tennis room, counseling room, libraries, and more.
News 18: The allegation against you is that no tenders were floated when the cost escalated by Rs 326 crores.
Manish Sisodia: They are all lying. All processes have been followed including those of tenders, permissions, etc. However, the BJP’s problem is not that of tenders. The BJP always lies. The problem of the BJP is how children studying in a government school have such great facilities. Let me show you what is the problem of the BJP.
Look at this library. Leave alone government schools, very few private schools have such great libraries. Their problem is why have we built such great libraries for children studying in government schools? Who are these kids? Where do they come from? One student who resides in Indira camp is the daughter of a tuition teacher, another is the son of a gardner, the third is the child of a tailor, the fourth is that of a tuition teacher, and the fifth is the child of a clerk in a private office, the sixth is the daughter of ‘cutting master’.
BJP has a problem with why these children were given such good libraries and studying in such a great atmosphere. Look at the floors, so much money will be spent. They are not worried about the money being spent. They are worried about the fact that we have built great schools for children coming from such ordinary backgrounds. Perhaps ‘ tavedes’ should be built, or ‘ kabadkhane’ that the BJP ruling in Gujarat for 27 years, has built. My crime is that I have built such great schools.
BJP is not saying that. The CVC report is saying it. The CVC report is saying that there was a cost escalation of 54% but no tenders were floated for the same.
See, the government has already given its reply to the CVC report. CVC reports contain some observations, CVC CAG reports contain some observations and they are always answered. But BJP is asking why have so many rooms been built? Now, if this school has more demand for children, I would build more rooms here, and give facilities to more children to study. They are asking why have you built so many toilets, so many rooms. Now, look at this – this is a counseling room. They are asking why do children studying in government schools need counselors? They are asking why have you built so many washrooms.
CVC report has alleged that washrooms have been passed off as classrooms?
We have built washrooms. They are also rooms. How does it matter? Look at this – this is a room for sports, some were built for libraries, some for toilets, classrooms. All are rooms, at the end of the day. Are we staying in these rooms? This is a table tennis room, are we playing in this room, aren’t children playing here? Now, here is a child of a chemist practicing in this great table tennis room. That is their problem- why have we given such good facilities to these kids? I will give such facilities. I am the education minister, it is my responsibility to give good facilities to children. You are welcome to do whatever you want.
You have said that the government has replied to the CVC report. What is the reply of the government?
You will get it in the CVC report. This is our answer. Here are the schools. Here are the children. Is there any fraud going on? Have we built rooms and just covered them with sand? The rooms, the schools the facilities are visible for all to see. They are saying that Manish Sisodia has indulged in ghotala (scam). If this is a ghotala, every education minister should indulge in such ghotalas.
I will ask the question again- have you passed off toilets as classrooms on paper?
That is not the issue. BJP’s problem is not that toilets were built, BJP’s problem is why were so many toilets built? You read their allegations, watch their press conferences. They are alleging that instead of the sanctioned 1000 toilets why did you build 2000? Children, teachers, ladies children and girl children among them will come to the schools, will toilets not be required?
They are saying that 160 toilets were required but you built over 1200.
Actually, according to BJP ‘s formula, not even one toilet is required. Go and check in their schools, you will not find a single toilet. According to the formula of Manish Sisodia and Arvind Kejriwal, the number of toilets built is the number of toilets required.
The Lieutenant Governor office has alleged that the CVC report was suppressed for two and half years.
Where have we suppressed reports? We have done no such thing. It takes time to reply to these. We have given our answers. The CVC report is not the question. Now, let me show you what is happening here … ( young children are learning music in the music rooms ) – BJP has a problem with why the children of poor and economically disadvantaged backgrounds are being given such a great education. BJP is not able to digest this. This should be accessible to only the privileged class, what are children from ordinary backgrounds being given such great music teachers such facilities? To build such rooms, money will have to be spent. And we have spent that money. And we are proud of that. All education ministers and chief ministers of all states of all countries should do this. PM should not be busy making his friends rich. Tomorrow, when these children get a great education, even they will become rich.
In retrospect, do you feel that if processes had been followed there wouldn’t have been such a controversy?
BJP is lying. We have followed all processes. There is no process that we have not followed. But, BJP knows only how to obstruct work. Chief Minister Kejriwal always says that one must learn from the other. If a torn paper is stuck at this door, how can you say that it is from Arvind Kejriwal’s school. We are saying that children are being taught in a great way in Arvind Kejriwal’s schools, you can also do the same. We could visit your schools, if you have done good work, we can learn from you, we can improve put schools. But they are not interested in that.
Are you worried that there is almost a breakdown in communication between the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister? It could lead to a constitutional crisis.
It is unfortunate that people occupying constitutional posts- the Lieutenant governor, the Prime Minister are constantly thinking of how to stop the education of these poor kids, how to trap the poor in poverty, and how to enrich their friends. We are constantly thinking of how to give good education to poor children, and how to improve the lifestyle of poor people. The fight is about that. In this fight, we will fight- eye ball to eye ball- against whoever stands in opposition.