Stating that people haven’t given mandate to the party for Vidarbha’s statehood, BJP general secretary Muralidhar Rao categorically ruled out the possibility of granting statehood to the region anytime during the five-year tenure of the alliance government in the state. “It’s unlikely in five years. The party is in alliance government and hence can’t do wadakhilafi (go back on the promise) in alliance,” Rao told mediapersons at a press conference here Wednesday.
Asked if it was okay to do ‘wadakhilafi’ with the people of Vidarbha, Rao said, “We had promised this would be done if were voted to power. We didn’t get the required mandate.” When pointed out that the BJP was catapulted to power mainly due to the 44 seats it won from Vidarbha, Rao cited compulsions of alliance as the reason for not working on a statehood plan. “Statehood won’t be possible only due to the people of Vidarbha. It will be possible when the party gains in decisive strength,” said Rao, adding, “We will make Vidarbha strong as long as we don’t get the full mandate in Maharashtra. So, Vidarbha state won’t be possible in these five years.”
Rao had convened the press conference mainly to apprise the media about a “programme being undertaken to train 11 lakh party workers in party’s policies, principles and programmes to expand the party’s footprints in many other states of the country”. Asked if the party workers and leaders would be trained in observing restraint in their actions and statements, Rao said, “We will try to remove deficiencies if any. Any unacceptable behaviour is considered prohibitive by the party.” He added, “The yardsticks for the training would be based on the party’s ideology.”
On the issue of ‘gau-rakshaks’ targeting Dalits, Rao said, “The BJP doesn’t believe that Dalits’ lives are cheaper than that of the cow. We have been in the forefront of programmes for Dalit upliftment, like ‘Start-up India’. Dalits are an inalienable part of Indian society.” Rao, who was drafted into the BJP from the RSS-front Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), reacted to the SJM’s stand on the foreign direct investment (FDI) move of the Narendra Modi government. Stating that
“SJM has its own views”, he said it considered self-dependence important but didn’t think there was any need to completely shun foreign investment. When asked if the leadership change in Gujarat was due to an internal survey of the party that indicated it was likely to get only 60 seats in the next elections, Rao said, “Internal surveys are not to be discussed in the media. I will say the party is moving in the direction of jawani (youth).”