What is your sense of the BJP’s prospects in Himachal?
Despite being in opposition in the state during 2014 Lok Sabha elections, we bagged all four seats, and we will repeat it this time. Our government is working well. So why would the party lose any seat? That would have happened only if the central leadership was unpopular, but that is not the case.
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But doesn’t the Congress have a strong support base here?
The Congress has a traditional vote bank in the state, but they lost ground after the Balakot strike. Ours is an Army-dominated state, so border issues affect Himachal psychologically. The Congress asking for proof of Balakot and saying things like people get into the Army to die will be counterproductive.
Rahul Gandhi just held a big rally in your constituency, and seems to be attracting crowds?
What about the BJP’s development work in the state? Are you talking about that?
We have been in power here for just 16 years out of 72, so development hasn’t been done at the pace it should have been. Even then, we have brought AIIMS, PGI, IIITs and hydro university to the state. For a hill state, roads are everything. (Nitin) Gadkariji approved projects worth Rs 4,400 for the state in the last one year.
Last month, EC objected to your address when certain words were used against Rahul. Have you changed your approach now?
I was relating an incident that the same Rahul — who is out on bail, whose mother and brother-in-law are also out on bail — is using derogatory words like ‘chor’ for someone who has been CM for 12 years and PM for 5 years. When Bofors happened, we used to say Rajiv Gandhi chor hai, but our leaders Atalji and Advaniji never used such a word. They said there was corruption, Rajiv had taken kickbacks.
Now unfortunately, the Congress president, who dreams of becoming PM, calls such an honest man chor. So I was telling people that he should realise how much people love Modiji and they can also call Rahul names. At the same time, I admonished people that this is misuse of social media and if our party workers do it, they will be ousted. There should be a strict law for social media — no one has a right to abuse either Modi or Rahul.
So you meant such words shouldn’t have been used for Rahul on social media?
No, I meant Rahul shouldn’t call Modiji chor. Because if he keeps at it, he will have to face people who love Modi… Who gives Rahul the right to call Modiji a chor, there is no case against him, nor is he out on bail.
Was it an emotional response to the fact that he is abusing your leader?
We are up against people like Mulayam, Mayawati, Lalu and Kejriwal, so we need all kinds of people to deal with them. BJP didn’t get a mandate on Atalji’s decency. We formed the government only after all kinds of people came into our fold. Workers will not walk with us if we keep getting thrashed. I still touch the feet of senior opposition leaders. This incident might have given an impression that I am not so decent, but our workers are assured that there is someone to take on Rahul if he calls Modi chor…
The discourse has shifted to Rahul’s father and his alleged holiday on a Navy ship. Does it make sense?
Modiji hasn’t said anything about Rajivji ever before. But as they say, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones at others. Modiji is reviving public memory on Rajiv’s life…
Don’t you think the PM should also watch his words, considering he holds the highest office in the country?
I think that until you bring the inside accounts of the lives of Congress people out in the open, things won’t change. I feel a public personality doesn’t have a private life. These people shelter anti-national and corrupt people, won’t we tell people they are supporting drug dealers and crooks? What will we talk about if not the truth?