MLA, Wazirpur, Delhi
Rajesh Gupta, 39, left a thriving shoe business and a budding career in theater to join the AAP to change the nation. His journey in AAP embodies what ordinary Indians can achieve if they decide to take on politics-as-usual.
He started with the important but not-so-glamorous task of keeping the area behind the stage clean during the early days of anti-corruption protests led by Anna Hazare in 2011. Just after that, he went to New York for theater training, but returned to Delhi in November 2013 to support the party in the assembly elections. His first official role was that of ward-in-charge of Keshav Puram in Wazirpur constituency. His hard work in that ward led to him being offered the candidature of MLA for the 2015 Delhi assembly elections. He did not ask for any “ticket”, but once he got it, he ensured that he won by a big margin of 22,044 votes.
In Wazirpur, Rajesh is proud of the work that he has done as an MLA to improve development facilities, particularly schools and hospitals. Today, Wazirpur boasts of four of the much-acclaimed mohalla clinics and four polyclinics, as well as a new government hospital, which he visits weekly. This hospital has been rated the cleanest in Delhi. He has also organized Rogi Kalyan Samitis comprising local people who visit the hospital every day to help patients. There are fifteen government schools in Wazirpur assembly constituency, and Rajesh regularly attends their annual and sports days. He also visits private schools and everywhere he speaks the language of hope and of a better, inclusive politics that can inspire the next generation. He has also got several LED streetlights installed and toilets built to prevent open defecation.
Rajesh calls himself the “beta” of the constituency, not its “neta”. He considers all its residents his extended family. When asked what is his vision for Wazirpur, he replies that this is not up to him as if he were the “raja” of the place. It is the praja who will decide what they want–and he has set up a system of 113 Pratinidhi Sabhas who meet RWAs to get their suggestions and inputs about future requirements in the area. He proposes to share his budget transparently with all these sabhas and then collectively decide how to best spend the allocated budget, so that no one feels left out.
Rajesh was the Parliamentary Secretary for Health in Delhi government, and he is passionate about delivering better health outcomes to the aam aadmi. He says that the blessings of a mother who has benefited from more affordable healthcare in Delhi are the best earnings for him. Speaking of money, Rajesh shares a secret–one way that the AAP government can afford to subsidize healthcare is by controlling costs elsewhere. A flyover in his area was built at a cost of Rs. 147 crore, over Rs. 100 crore less than budgeted. This saving itself has paid for one year of free medicines across Delhi’s hospitals, he says.