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‘Cong,SP’s politics can propel BJP to first place’

Nitin Gadkari,campaigning relentlessly in states voting,discusses his party’s UP prospects in this interview with Swaraj Thapa

Written by Swaraj Thapa | Published: February 27, 2012 2:54:01 am

The way you have been campaigning in UP,people are now saying the entire BJP campaign is on your shoulders.

Well,that is not true. Many of our leaders — Rajnath Singhji,Uma Bhartiji,Advaniji,Sushmaji,Arun Jaitley,Kalraj (Misra),Vinay Katiyarji — are there… Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is there tomorrow.

But Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi isn’t.

Well,he has said he is busy in Gujarat. And (he had) his Sadhbahavna mission programme,so he was not able to give time. The party did request him but it was for him to take time out to campaign. Only he can say how he can take time out,or whether he can at all.

Does it amount to an act of indiscipline?

We cannot call it indiscipline. Maybe he is genuinely busy. There are other BJP ministers,too,who did not campaign.

Has Modi’s image become bigger than the party’s?

I will not comment on this. All I will say is that he is a popular chief minister of Gujarat and has worked to make the party stronger. He is a role model for development. He has the capacity to lead the BJP at the national level. My best wishes are with him.

There is a perception that he chose to stay away from UP because you promoted his arch rival Sanjay Joshi there.

Such a comparison is unfair. Sanjay Joshi is just an ordinary worker of the party; he is not even a pracharak. He is only an effective worker. I took Joshi’s support in Uttar Pradesh and gave him some responsibilities. I don’t think Modi is angry because of Joshi. Modi is a very tall leader; I don’t think such small matters should trouble him.

You say the BJP is a dark horse in UP but the general perception is that it will come either third or fourth.

Every passing day is strengthening the BJP. People don’t want Mayawati’s corrupt government or the Samajwadi Party’s goonda raj. As an alternative there is the Congress or the BJP. But the Congress has destroyed the country with its corruption and rising prices. As a result the people don’t want to associate with the Congress. The only alternative,therefore,is the BJP. Also,both the Congress and the SP have been playing appeasement politics,as a result of which there is polarisation. There is a strong reaction from the backwards because of their promise to give a chunk of the OBC reservation to minorities… Seeing the undercurrents,I can tell you that the benefit will go to the BJP. It can even propel the BJP to the first position,which won’t be surprising,which is why I say the BJP is the dark horse.

Is that why you decided to counter Mayawati with Uma Bharti?

Well,a party does everything possible to win. Uma Bharti is a popular leader of the party. She has a national stature,an image of her own. She also has an OBC background. In such a situation,she is getting a very good response in UP. That is why I had asked her to come back to the BJP and work for the party in UP. This has proved successful,the party has gained by her presence.

What will her role in UP be if the BJP is not able to form a government in the state? Will she be leader of the opposition?

Uma Bharti is a national leader,she does not belong to Uttar Pradesh alone. Her stature is much larger. She will be working for the BJP in the whole country. As far as leadership of the BJP in UP is concerned,I have already said the elected MLAs will decide their leader.

You have come out in support of Kingfisher Airlines and said it should be supported.

You see,if any single airline closes,the rest will immediately raise fares by 20 to 25 per cent. If Kingfisher continues,then air travellers will benefit. For instance,earlier I used to make trunk calls from Nagpur to Mumbai at Rs 65 a minute. Now,because of competition,I am able to make calls at just 40 paise a minute. So,the more the competition,the more the companies,the bigger the benefit to consumers.

So you support a bailout for Kingfisher?

Not bailout. Because of some policies of the government,a running company gets shut. They have said Income Tax has seized their accounts. If the government puts up obstacles,companies will face problems. I don’t mean to say a bailout,but there has to a practical solution. If the industry survives,then the country will survive. After all,industry gives revenue to the country and employment to the unemployed. There must be thinking in terms of an integrated approach. Even Kingfisher themselves have not sought a bailout.

What will the BJP’s approach be in the budget session?

The BJP will raise all important issues,but of the current issues,it will certainly raise the matter of the Supreme Court decision regarding the attack on the unarmed and innocent at Ramlila Maidan. One poor woman even lost her life. But the Delhi Police commissioner says he did not give the orders. He is not speaking the truth. There is a need to go deeper. My charge is that Home Minister Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal were part the conspiracy and responsible for the attack on the unarmed and innocent men,women and children sleeping at midnight. There should be an inquiry against them too. Was the attack carried out without permission?

Your tenure as BJP president is coming to an end in December. How do you see your term so far?

It is for you to make an assessment. I am an ordinary worker of the party. I want to work for the poor,the society and the country. Politics is an instrument of socio-economic reform; that is what I think. Whatever responsibilities I was given,I have tried to do my job to the best of my ability. After this,whether I am made vice president or just an ordinary worker,I will be satisfied and just do my job. But I think we have made the party stronger in states like Bihar. In the five Assembly elections,too,I think the party will fare well.

What about disappointments?

I think for the best and prepare for the worst. Therefore I don’t worry. I have nothing to lose.

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