Excerpts from an Idea Exchange with Gopinath Munde, then deputy leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, in Mumbai in January
P Vaidyanathan Iyer: Do you think the BJP will benefit from polarisation over Narendra Modi’s nomination as PM candidate?
Modi has not made any religious or casteist statement that can cause polarisation. He has not even mentioned the words Hindu and Muslim.
Shubhangi Khapre: Would it have helped consolidate support for the NDA had you not declared Modi the PM candidate so soon?
To win, we have to cross 180 in the Lok Sabha. The NDA can be strengthened only if we win these many seats, for which announcement of Modi as the PM candidate was absolutely essential. We had only two names — L K Advani and Modi. The age factor was not in favour of Advani. The party has increased its votes by 10 per cent after declaring Modi as the candidate.
Sandeep Ashar: You have been sidelined a number of times in Maharashtra politics owing to differences between the Munde and Nitin Gadkari factions.
There is no rivalry between Gadkari and me. He is from Vidarbha, I am from Marathwada. He has never wanted to be the chief minister. There is no common interest.
Zeeshan Shaikh: Do you feel you have become a soft target within and outside the party after Pramod Mahajan’s death?
Pramod and I ran the party for 25 years. Reform and new leadership are natural. I had to face difficulty after Pramod’s death because he was more connected to Delhi politics. For the first two-three years, I was busy with court proceedings in the murder case. This was followed by Rahul’s (Mahajan) episode. The outer perception was that I was being sidelined.
Transcribed by Stuti Shukla and Shubhangi Khapre