‘There is no plan to look for allies for a pre-poll tie-up’

At the latest Express Adda,BJP president Rajnath Singh in conversation with Shekhar Gupta,Editor-in-Chief,The Express Group,talks about Narendra Modi’s appointment as the party’s election campaign committee chief,L K Advani’s concerns and the BJP’s preparations for the polls ahead

Written by Shekhar Gupta | Updated: September 3, 2014 1:45 pm

On preparing for 2014

The BJP-led NDA will fight elections together and we will have a common minimum programme (CMP). We will sit together and decide what our CMP will be and then present it to the people. If our allies say that no CMP is required and every party that is a component of the NDA can go ahead with its own agenda,we can go to the people with the agenda. As far as pre-poll alliance is concerned,there is no proposal right now to increase the number of allies. However,maybe in the future we could get so much strength in the Lok Sabha that we will not need allies. Even if we get a clear majority in the next elections,the government that we will form will have the participation of our existing allies.

On the UPA government’s performance

The Congress-led UPA’s performance in the last nine years has disappointed people. On any front,be it economic,internal and external security or diplomacy,the government is a failure. The Congress-led UPA has lost its credibility and this is not an exaggeration. When we fight elections,it will not be only on the negative aspects of the Congress government. We will also bring forth our positive issues about the vision our party has for the country. As soon as I became president,I called for the drafting of a vision document. We will go with a vision and positive issues to the people and ask for votes.

On reluctance of parties to join hands with the BJP

In 1998,when we first formed the government under Vajpayeeji,we did not have many allies. However,after that the government that we ran included 24 allies. The skill to run a coalition government is only with the BJP,which we proved by running the government for six years. A lot of regional parties have their own problems if they join hands with some national party,their vote bank could get affected. So,they don’t want to join hands with a national party. The alliance of the Congress with its allies was not pre-poll,it happened after the elections. When the Congress emerged as the single largest party,that is when the alliance happened.

On India’s need for a new economic model

The Congress-led government has created a gloomy picture of the economy which needs to be changed. The economic model which we have adopted in the last 65 years has created economic disparity and civil unrest similar to what Maoism and extremism did. We need to think about an alternative economic model. India does not need to ape the US economic model.

On his idea of Hindutva

People think that Hinduism is a caste or a religion. Parties which have only vote bank politics on their minds,call us communal. In its verdict,the Supreme Court has defined Hindutva as a way of life. It cannot be limited to caste,creed or religion. Hindutva can never create hatred between people. There is a festival,Nag Panchami,where people,who believe in the ideology of Hindutva,feed milk to serpents. So,those who believe in this ideology cannot sow hatred between people. We have run a government in the country. We have shown that we do not discriminate on the basis of religion. Whoever is born in this country belongs to this nation. However,I would like to say that it is unfortunate,but the most communal party is the Congress. Since Independence,the brotherhood that should have been created between communities was not done. Instead,they propagated vote bank politics.

On L K Advani

Advaniji is our guardian. He had raised some concerns but certainly it was not against Modi’s elevation as chairman of the campaign committee. Advaniji is a highly respected leader. His contribution in building the party along with Vajpayeeji cannot be overlooked. In a family,a father sometimes makes a point against a child no matter how intelligent or good he/she is. Similarly,Advaniji said that in the same tone.

On Narendra Modi

I have just declared Modi the chairman of the election campaign committee. We very well understand the mood of the people of India. Rest assured,we will take the right decision at an appropriate time.

On party dissent

Since it was formed,the BJP has seen leaders come and go. In India,there are only three national political parties — the Congress,the BJP and the Communists. These parties have seen vertical divisions. The Congress saw a vertical division and the Communists have seen vertical divisions. The BJP is the only party where some people may have left the party for various reasons but there was never a vertical division in the party because this party is committed to its ideology and political thought. Some people get angry and leave their homes but they return after a few days.

On the BJP’s foreign policy

The BJP wants to have cordial relations with all nations. Our policy will not be like that of the Congress,of getting close to a country at one time and then with another the next moment. We would want to be equidistant with everyone and have cordial relations with everyone. We do not have good relations with any of our neighbours. It is a diplomatic failure. About Pakistan,I would like to say that we want better relations with them.

On the party’s stand on economic reforms. We are not against economic reforms. The process of economic liberalisation had started even before the NDA government. Economic reforms have always been high on our agenda. But we have always ensured that the autonomy of the Indian economy is not compromised.

voice bank

A 60-year-old is considered unfit to run a company in India Inc,but in politics,nobody questions 60-65-year-old leaders. What is

your opinion?

Rajnath Singh: Psychology should be the base,not age. The factors which need to be considered are whether the person can overcome circumstances and give new ideas. It is not about being young or old. Moreover,old leaders also bring along experience,which is significant. It cannot be overlooked. In my central BJP team,85 per cent of the office-bearers are younger than 55.

Shouldn’t you ban the word ‘Hindu’ and use secular instead? Minorities are afraid of the BJP because of Hindutva.

Rajnath Singh: I don’t think the word ‘Hindu’ should be banned,it is our ideology. Why should anybody hesitate to say ‘I am a Hindu’,or ‘I am a Muslim’ or ‘I am a Christian’? The BJP always talks of cultural nationalism and integral humanism. The Congress has no problems in its alliance with the Muslim League and calls itself secular. But the BJP which does not believe in discrimination is not secular. It’s time people know the truth.

Political discourse in Parliament has declined. There is no business happening as the government and the Opposition are at loggerheads.

Rajnath Singh: I agree with you. But if the government fails to respond to the Opposition,how are we to blame? We had demanded the resignation of railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. We raised objections to law minister Ashwani Kumar’s violation of Supreme Court directives. Had the government heeded our demands,Parliament would have worked. But they adjourned Parliament two days ahead and then sacked the corrupt ministers.

What will be the continuity and the change in a Narendra Modi-led BJP and the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP?

Rajnath Singh: The BJP has its own ideology,principles and programmes. Based on this,we run our government and our political party. Even if the leadership changes,there will not be a variance. For example,the economic changes done by Atal Bihari Vajpayee were based on the vision of the party. In the future,there may be some minute changes

that we cannot ignore. But,all in all,things will not change too much.

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