Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Jan 20 : Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia said while his first term was utilised in improving the government schools here, the next term, if re-elected, will be all about focusing on the higher education in the national capital.

Speaking to IANS, Sisodia said that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will win on all the 70 Assembly seats in the February 8 elections.

The AAP, elected in 2015 by bagging 67 of the 70 Assembly seats, has transformed the Delhi government schools and was praised for the reforms both nationally and globally.

"A lot is to be done in Delhi. What we have done in the last five years should have been done years ago. But no one cared to improve the schools and the education sector here." He said most of the time of his tenure as the Education Minister of Delhi was used to improve the basic infrastructure and the education quality in these schools.

While that is still a work in progress and will continue towards a complete overhaul of the school system, the Minister has bigger plans for the next term, if elected, with primary focus on higher education.

Among other wishes, Sisodia said he would like to work to increase the intake capacity at the university level.

"Being the national capital, Delhi should have more intake capacity in higher education as students from outside the city also come here. A lot more needs to be done in the higher education sector.

"We have passed two bills in the last session (of Delhi Assembly) for two universities in Delhi. Now, we will work to make two big universities in Delhi. We are aiming to increase the intake of universities by about one lakh in the next few years," he told IANS.

In December 2019, the Assembly passed the Delhi Skills and Entrepreneurship University Bill and Sports University bill.

According to Sisodia, the intake capacity of Delhi should be about five lakh in higher education but said that the city does not have enough facilities to accommodate its own students.

"Our focus will be on working to increase the seats so that more and more students can be accommodated," said Sisodia, who holds Education, Finance, Planning, Land and Building, Vigilance, Services, Women and Child Development, Art, Culture and Languages and all other departments not specifically allotted to any Minister.

He also slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by saying that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is not what the country wants, and the governments across the nation should focus on improving schools, colleges and employment rates.

For the term that ends next month, the journalist-turned-politician has a few unfulfilled wishes, but he was "satisfied" with the work they could do.

"There are so many wishes and dreams left which I could not fulfill in the last five years as we needed to make the base of education strong," Sisodia told IANS when asked about the regrets he has as the term was coming to an end.

"No other government has worked in such detail on the government schools. I wish we could have done so much, but I will say I am satisfied with what all I could do in the last five years." Apart from education, the Delhi Deputy Chief Minister said, water will be another priority of the AAP on re-election.

"We will work to improve the quality of water and ensure piped water reaches every household. The old pipelines also need to be repaired. The focus will also be on the management and quality of water in the next five years," Sisodia added.

The government had started the work on piped water and sewage management in the ongoing term, however, it was stopped after an order by the National Green Tribunal due to severe air pollution, he informed.

"The work is going on and a lot of technicalities are involved. The work was stopped as the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) was imposed due to severe air pollution in the city. Now the work is under progress everywhere and almost 90 per cent is completed," he told IANS.

Regulating unauthorised colonies was another agenda on AAP's poll promises back in 2015. The Minister, however, accused the BJP of "cheating people".

"People have understood that they (BJP leaders) are giving fake registries to them. People are not even applying for the process. This shows that the lies of the BJP have come out before the people," he said, adding a valid registry cannot be done unless the land use is changed.

The 48-year-old leader will fight the elections from his home turf in Patparganj on February 8.

(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at nivedita.singh@ians.in)

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