‘All of Hardik’s tweets are against the BJP… Is everything all right with the Congress’, says Vijay Rupani

This edition of the Express Adda held at the Hyatt Hotel, Ahmedabad, hosted Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. Rupani spoke on a range of issues — preparing for the state assembly elections, dealing with the Patidar and Dalit agitations and the impact of demonetisation and GST.

By: Express News Service | Updated: October 7, 2017 9:29 am
vijay rupani, gujarat polls, gujarat elections, gujarat polls 2017, gujarat polls, gujarat 2017 elections, vijay rupani on gst, india news (From left) Vandita Mishra, National Opinion Editor, The Indian Express, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Leena Misra, Resident Editor (Gujarat), at the Express Adda in Ahmedabad

On managing Narendra Modi’s first election
Narendrabhai came in 2001 and within six months he had to fight an election. He had left everything to the party and it was decided that he would fight elections from Rajkot, which has been a BJP bastion since the Jan Sangh days. The Congress had put in its full force in that election but he (Modi) won. That election was important for us.

On Gujarat CMs living in Modi’s shadow
You can’t compare (us) with Modi. You cannot hold a lamp to the sun. He (Modi) has charted a path of development (for Gujarat and India) and I am certainly capable of walking on that path.

On learning Russian in prison during the Emergency
During our time in prison (during the Emergency), a senior leader told us to make good use of our time. So, I decided to learn a foreign language. Russia was the dominating power then, so I learnt Russian — I was 19. Josef Stalin’s daughter Svetlana had written a number of books and I read those.

On the Patidar and Dalit agitations
Let me tell you, we have many Patidars in our leadership. To contain the agitation, we brought a Yuva Swavalamban Yojana under which the state government promised

financial assistance to students of non-reserved categories in private institutes. Apart from that, we have also enacted a law to give 10 per cent reservation to economically weaker sections. A legal matter regarding that is pending before the Supreme Court. And recently, we have negotiated with agitating Patidars and decided to set up a Commission for non-reserved category students to give them financial assistance. We are also appointing a judicial commission to probe into the allegations of police atrocities (on agitating Patidars).

As far as Una (where Dalits were attacked) is concerned, what happened was shameful. But we acted expeditiously and took strict action. The case is going on in a fast track court. Unfortunately, Mayawatiji politicised the entire issue. After that (Una public flogging of Dalits), nothing (crime against Dalits) has happened in Gujarat till today. Una happened around one-and-a- half years back. So, that agitation has got diluted. I don’t see any problem.

On Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani
I want to ask if the three of them are going to form a political party and fight elections. Only when they do, if they do, will it be clear who is more popular. And I doubt if the three of them can come together. Each of them has a different demand — one is talking about OBC reservation, second is talking about Dalit reservation and the third one is talking about no reservation. I believe the emergence of these three leaders is a conspiracy of the Congress party. All of Hardik’s tweets are against the BJP, none is against the Congress. Is everything all right with the Congress?

On the 150+ target for polls
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP got 73 out of 80 seats. Now, keeping in mind those seats, it was leading in 310 Assembly constituencies. And when results of the UP Assembly elections were out, we got 325 seats. The same logic applies to Gujarat. In 2014, we won 26 out of 26 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. Considering that performance, we were leading in 165 Assembly constituencies. On the basis of that, we have kept the target at 150+. Moreover, when Narendrabhai was CM, we got 121 seats. So now, when he is the PM, we should get more seats.Assembly elections were out, we got 325 seats. The same logic applies to Gujarat. In 2014, we won 26 out of 26 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. Considering that performance, we were leading in 165 Assembly constituencies. On the basis of that, we have kept the target at 150+. Moreover, when Narendrabhai was CM, we got 121 seats. So now, when he is the PM, we should get more seats.

On ‘Vikas Gando Thayo Chhe’, a social media campaign

We are happy that the Congress is discussing development now. We will discuss only development and it will be the main issue during elections.Vikas has not gone mad, people (Congress) who are making this campaign (‘Vikas Gando Thayo Chhe’ or ‘Development Has Gone Mad’) have gone mad by seeing our progress. We have also given a slogan now: ‘Hu Gujarat Chhu, Hoon j Vikas chhu’ (I am Gujarat, I am indeed Vikas)’.

On the Rajya Sabha election controversy

I have said it before too, due to her putra moh, Sonia Gandhi has sunk the Congress in the entire country. And due to ‘Rajya Sabha prem’ of Ahmedbhai (Ahmed Patel), the Congress is lost in Gujarat. The Congress needed 45 votes to win the seat and they had 60 votes and they still took their MLAs to Bengaluru and kept them there for 15 days. While in Banaskantha — which has a majority of Congress MLAs — people were struggling in the floods, all the Congress legislators were at a resort in Bengaluru. Yet, they got only 44 votes. Had they got one vote less, Ahmedbhai would have lost the election. Fourteen of their MLAs — veterans like Shankersinh Vaghela, Amul dairy chairman Ramsinh Parmar, Patidar leader from Saurashtra Raghavji Patel and Tejashreeben Patel, left the party. This is a vertical split in the Congress. This is like just before a race, the runner has a fractured leg. Learnt the value of liberty only in jail, says Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani

On making laws on cow slaughter stricter

First of all, there is no Hindu-Muslim angle to our anti-cow slaughter law. We are trying to make Gujarat No. 1 in milk production. During the Congress rule, the dairy industry was destroyed. Narendrabhai revived it. Now, the number of people keeping livestock has increased, the number of livestock has also increased and milk production has gone up. This is giving a boost to the rural economy.Also, worshipping the cow is a matter of faith in our society and everybody was of the opinion that the previous Act was lenient and needed to be stricter. As for the law on Prohibition, we have made it stricter to save the young generation from addiction. This is the land of Gandhi and Sardar Patel. We have prohibited hookah bars here too. It is the responsibility of the government to protect the youth.

On demonetisation and GST impacting traders

Notebandi was a bold step taken by Narendrabhai to check black money. When VAT was introduced, there were some initial difficulties but those got sorted out in time. After GST came into force, I have been meeting traders to resolve their issues. But nobody has told me that GST is wrong. They have all said that they welcome it. ‘One Nation, One Tax’, has been our demand since years and I will ensure that whatever difficulties traders are facing, will be sorted out soon.

Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani dares Hardik, Jignesh, Alpesh: let them fight elections

On the rush for govt jobs in a state known for entrepreneurship It is because of the security of government jobs. We have implemented the Seventh Pay Commission. Today, a private school teacher gets Rs 10,000 –15,000 (per month); a teacher employed by Gujarat government gets Rs 50,000. The numbers reflecting in this registration are large, but the unemployment numbers are lower in Gujarat. They (those registered with the employment exchange) are already employed but hope to get a government job. It does not mean that all of them who are registered with the employment exchange are unemployed. It is because they have not got a job of their choice.

On minorities and inclusion

We have workers who are from the minority community. I can say with confidence that after 2002, when a railway coach of karsevaks was burnt down, till 2017, for 15 years there has been no communal tension in Gujarat. At one point of time, rathyatras could not be conducted in Gujarat. Now, they are held with pomp and gaiety as are taaziya processions, all in a harmonious atmosphere.Second, in its report, the Sachar committee, which was formed during the time of the UPA government, concluded that Muslims were most prosperous — both economically and socially — in Gujarat.

On giving tickets to Muslims for Assembly polls

Amitbhai (Amit Shah) had also responded (about not giving tickets to Muslims in UP elections). Merely giving election tickets is not a measure of taking care of minorities. Equating the two is appeasement. Saying that minorities should be given (tickets) is talking appeasement.    Transcribed by Parimal Dabhi

Vijay Rupani, in a discussion moderated by National Opinion Editor Vandita Mishra and Resident Editor (Gujarat) Leena Misra

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