In his campaign speeches, Isudan Gadhvi, Aam Aadmi Party’s chief ministerial candidate, emphasises a pair of words that encapsulate the party’s core pitch for the impending Gujarat assembly election. The words? “Zero” and “free”. In the main, they refer to the party’s promise to provide 300 units of free electricity and free bus travel for women if voted to power.
Newslaundry caught up with Gadhvi on the campaign trail to ask about the economics of his party’s promise to provide subsidised electricity and monetary allowances for women and unemployed, its charge of partisanship against the media, if it has any concrete plan to tackle farmer distress, and its embrace of “soft Hindutva”.
Gadhvi is contesting from Khambhalia constituency against Vikram Madam of the Congress and Mulubhai Bera of the BJP. The former TV journalist cites “the struggles of farmers, the unemployed and women” as his motivation for joining electoral politics. “Politics is not my career,” he adds.
Gadhvi likens the BJP to “rakshas” and “Ravan” for “managing” the media. “You said we get little space in the media. Truth is there is no space at all,” he complains.
What does he make of his party chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind to print images of the Hindu deities Ganesh and Lakshmi on currency notes? Wouldn’t that impinge on the country’s secular character? “This is what people want,” Gadhvi replies.