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In Gujarat, AAP’s Gopal Italia bets on ‘Parivartan’

Gopal Italia, the 33-year-old state organizer of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), is a well-known Patidar face in the state and also the main campaigner of the Arvind Kejriwal-led group. While he may have lost to Isudan Gadhvi in ​​the race to become AAP’s top ministerial face for the state’s December elections, Italia is all set to lead his party to victory with a focus on people’s problems.

In the Katargam constituency, which goes to the polls on December 1 in its first phase, CNN-News18 caught up with Italy to decipher AAP’s strategy and plans for personal growth. Edited snippets:

How do you watch the maiden contest? How strong, do you think, are your opponents of Congress and the BJP?

This election is being fought by the people themselves. It is the people who are behind us and the candidate who has the support of the people is the strongest. In this election, it is the AAP, the people of Gujarat who are strong and all our participants.

What do you have to say about Vinod Moradia, a minister in the BJP government, and Kalpesh Variya, the Congress candidate?

I have nothing to say about anyone else. I will speak only of myself and the people of the state. I am an educated youth leader, I represent an educated and young party and have risen through the ranks after several struggles. People support Arvind Kejriwal and the issues raised by AAP. I have faith that people will make the right decision.

You are also the star campaigner for your party. Do you have time to campaign for your elections and those of others?

I am campaigning – for the party, for the people, for everyone.

How many candidates and constituencies have you campaigned for so far?

I have conducted roadshows, ‘padyatras’, door-to-door campaigns in many meetings and will continue to do so.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is very popular, especially in his home state. Do you think the AAP’s campaign can break its popularity?

Look, we’re against nobody. There are those that are popular, there are those that are not – each has its own identity. That is all right. We are here to talk about the people’s problems and, if we get the chance, to work for the people.

AAP built good schools in Delhi and started doing so in Punjab. It built ‘Mohalla Clinics’ in Delhi and then in Punjab. We are here to work for the people. ‘Jo popular hai, nahi hai, jo ache hain, jo bure hain, sabko apna apna mubarak. Hum janta ke log hain, janta ke liye kaam karne ke liye avenge’ [Those who are popular, those who aren’t, those who are good and those who are bad — to each his own. We are of the public and will come to work for them].

We are campaigning and I am confident that people will reward us with their votes.

There are so many cases against you – here in Gujarat, another one in NCW. How do you watch this one?

Yes, there are many cases against me, but not one of them has to do with corruption. That to me is a matter of pride. The charges against me have been brought against me during my struggle for the people and because of the BJP’s ‘tanaashahi’. I am proud that I have fought for the people and that FIRs have been filed against me.

Many years have passed since you posted videos that used foul language. You did quite a few things after that. Do you regret those videos afterwards?

You say yourself that it is past tense. Why are you bringing it up again?

Because I want to know if you regret that.

Nobody wants to understand. Only you and the BJP want to understand this kind of thing. People have no money to pay the expenses of their children. Why are we talking about this old nonsense at election time? People are not fooled. ‘Bahut ho gayi ye saari cheezein, janta ki party hai, janta ki muddon ki baat karti hai. So saal pehle meine kya bola tha, kissi gareeb aadmi ko usse kya lena dena hai?’ [We are a party of the people and talk of their issues. What does a poor man have to do with what I said 10 years ago?] And if I’ve corrected my ten-year-old thinking, why would anyone have a problem with that?

So you agree that you corrected your thinking?

When you look at our esteemed Prime Minister, don’t you remember the words he used against Sonia Gandhi? I’m just trying to say that these are not the people’s issues. These are the problems of the media or the BJP.

People want to know who will give them good treatment. More than 200 people died in Morbi, people want to know who the killer is. More than 100 people died in lattha kand (drug tragedy), people want to know what punishment the murderers got. People have nothing to do with what I said 10 years ago. People want to know why papers are repeatedly leaked, putting the future of thousands of young people at stake. People want to know about the BJP leader to whom those leaking papers are dear. The AAP is here with a solution to these problems. If someone has no problems or solutions, they do these things.

But do you agree that there has also been a change in your thinking?

See, there is a change (parivartan) in the thinking of the people. Those who voted for the BJP year after year stand with the ‘jhadoo’ [broom] Today. This is exactly what has created fear and panic in the BJP and they are resorting to all sorts of tricks. Let them continue. People watching. People are with AAP and will ensure our victory.

How many seats will the AAP get?

As much as is necessary for a majority government.

What about the BJP and Congress?

They can tell you about their achievements.

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