New Delhi: As BJP reaped a rich electoral harvest in Assam after sewing up an alliance with regional parties, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday indicated the party will go the whole hog firming up coalitions in states where it cannot win elections on its own in the future.
"Wherever there is a possibility, you must firm up alliances, you must identify issues and then strategise accordingly," Naidu said when asked what were the major takeaways from the recent assembly elections in four states and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
At the same time, he dismissed the view that Congress lost the Assam polls as it did not forge an alliance, saying only forming coalitions do not yield positive results and that the performance of governments and leadership also count.
He took a jibe at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who had said that Congress lost Assam as it opted to go it all alone.
Claiming that the election results were an "endorsement of Narendra Modi's development agenda", the BJP leader said the message from the assembly polls in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam, besides Puducherry was that Congress is being marginalized while "BJP is becoming a pan India party".
In an interview to PTI, Naidu dismissed the possibility of hardline elements within the party getting strengthened in wake of victory in Assam, where BJP had made infiltration of Bangladeshi Muslims a major poll plank.
"There is suspicion in the mind of people that after the opponents have been cut to size, they (hardliners) would create further trouble. That's my counter. Why is this apprehension? Who organized it. Congress party had propped up Muslim League. It has given it credibility. It is continuing with the alliance with Muslim League in Kerala Assembly.
Communists also had an alliance with Muslim League. "What is the government's line. Unnecessary motives are being attributed and speculations are being created and wrong propaganda is being carried out," he said.
Asked whether he agrees with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's contention that Congress lost elections in Assam only because it did not go for an alliance, Naidu reminded that the party lost in Kerala and West Bengal despite having alliances.
"It is (also) the question of performance. Performance of Congress (governments) was bad both in Assam and Kerala. It was mired in corruption and could not deliver on promises. In Bengal, Congress and Communists came together but nothing happened.
"It's not alliance alone, it's your performance, your stand on issues, your approach, your leadership, your image all these things will count," he said.
BJP has tasted victory for the first time in Assam which had returned a Congress government thrice in a row under Tarun Gogoi. Congress-led alliance was also dethroned by the Left in Kerala, while Congress-CPI(M) alliance in West Bengal and
Congress-DMK alliance in Tamil Nadu had to eat humble pie.
Apart from winning Assam, BJP also bettered its performance in Kerala and West Bengal.
The Union Minister repeatedly described the victory of BJP in Assam and increase in its vote share in Kerala and West Bengal as public endorsement of the "development agenda" of the Modi government.
As the Modi government completes two years in office, the Union Minister insisted a "change" was visible in overall atmosphere and things are looking up.
Under attack from the Opposition, particularly the Congress, for allegedly doing "nothing" in two years, Naidu alluded to the corruption cases during UPA and insisted that the NDA government has checked the menace.
"The biggest achievement is containing corruption at the top. Corruption was rampant earlier. Now there is no allegation at any level so far. That's one of the biggest achievements. Second is the return of confidence. Confidence was lacking earlier among the people, among the investors, because the government was non-functional, there was policy paralysis.
"Now corruption and policy paralysis is not there anymore. There is ease of doing business, ease of approvals and speedy disposal of proposals. So the confidence of the people of country and investors has gone up because of the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Another major achievement is that keeping in mind federal spirit, 42 per cent of central revenue was transferred to states. It's a major leap forward and we want to work as Team India... that is the spirit," he said, rejecting criticism that neither employment nor investment has picked up under Modi.
Claiming that people have endorsed the development agenda of Modi in these elections, Naidu said that the results have brought BJP to the centre stage of Indian politics.
"In Lok Sabha elections, we, as a single party to govern, were given mandate after 30 years. Now in 15 states, BJP and its allies are ruling. 35 per cent of Indian population and 45 percent of Indian geographical area is under the influence of the BJP governments.
"All major states have gone out of Congress' hands including Kerala and Assam. The lesson for anybody from these elections is that Congress is being marginalized, the BJP is occupying centre stage and it has emerged as a pan India party.
"The lesson for the BJP is work hard, implement your programmes and plans more effectively and reach out, further widen and broaden your base because the atmosphere is favourable to you. The gateway has opened in north east," he said.
Downplaying a recent controversy over Union Minister VK Singh seeking renaming Akbar Road after Maharana Pratap, Naidu said in a democracy, people speak and one has to see whether the party, the government is acting or not.
"Somebody says name this road and the next day the concerned minister says no such proposal. That is the end to the matter. Why people are still raising that issue. Earlier people would say the government, the Prime Minister, the concerned minister should have said something. I am the concerned minister. I have said.
"What we have done in last two years that you talk of hardline...Some people are trying to divert us. I tell them join our development task, we are busy. We have no time for other issues. We will pay undivided attention to development.
Our priority is development and good governance," he said....