A short while after he had a first-hand experience of the bitter street fights being engaged in by the TRS and the challenger BJP on a Ganesh Utsav celebration stage, when a pink party transgressor rushed on to the stage, snatched the mike and shouted slogans, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, speaking to Sriram Karri, laughingly said, “The election fever is here. It feels like Telangana is going to the polls next month.”
The senior BJP leader, totally composed after the incident, spoke on a plethora of political issues in an exclusive interview.
The second term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, despite the Covid pandemic, has seen honouring most of its promises on issues that have been raging for decades – Article 370 and Ram temple at Ayodhya. But the Uniform Civil Code is pending. Will the Centre consider implementing it?
The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is not a BJP programme as much as a demand, necessity and aspiration of Muslim women. It comes from the tragic humiliation and indignity women get subjected to and suffer all their lives. The BJP is committed to creating a legal system which recognises their plight and gives them equal rights that Indian women of other religions are enjoying.
Specifically, the Central government knows what decisions to take when, and how – so I cannot say. But the UCC will happen next and BJP will fulfil it.
We see this only as a gender issue and we, as a party, will always respect and work for the betterment and empowerment of women. No matter what the Opposition says, we enjoy the blessings of women, and when they bless you, you will succeed.
Talking of women, what do you think of the statement of the Governor of Telangana about the disrespect and violation of protocol?
I met and spoke to Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan and understood her suffering very well. The Opposition and certain intellectuals who never tire of complaining that the Constitution and institutions are under attack ever since the Modi government came to power must reflect on this issue – is not the Governor’s office a Constitutional entity?
Even when she has to travel 800 km, the state government will deny her a helicopter. They are violating norms, precedents and the entire legal framework when they don’t let her address the Assembly or deliver the Republic Day speech, or when the Chief Minister boycotts the At Home programme on Independence Day. They are doing this to a woman, who is upholding her Constitutional obligations and role, as per law. It is a shame.
How do you react to KCR’s national ambition of launching a national party, or front, to take on the NDA?
It is the right of every Indian to fight elections or create a party or oppose the ruling front. I am from the North-East, so I don’t know much about KCR’s politics and I cannot comment much.
But what little I understand from what I watch from Assam or see or read in the media, if a Chief Minister allows sloganeers of ‘Sar tan se juda’ with impunity, not arrest them, or allow them to get away on bail, without having to experience the fullest might of Indian law, (it) gives a feeling that he is totally under the influence of the MIM and (Asaduddin) Owaisi and indulges in appeasement politics.
He has put a national agenda before his own state, we in BJP will be happy with that (smiles).
How would you react to the Bharat Jodo Yatra of Rahul Gandhi?
It is their penchant and habit of going wrong. It was under the watch of his great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru that India got partitioned. They broke India into two nations. If Rahul Gandhi wants to integrate, he must do his Bharat Jodo Yatra in Pakistan – that is where the jodo slogan is relevant. Today, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is totally united. No circumstance or scope exists in our Bharat today where any further disintegration is possible. So what is Rahul Gandhi really bringing together?
Moving the meter in history from 1947 to 1948, the BJP calls September 17 a Liberation Day, whereas KCR uses the phrase ‘merger’ and Owaisi ‘national integration’ day. How do you see it individually, beyond the party position?
I could have agreed with KCR’s term if the Nizam had voluntarily decided to join the Indian Union, which hundreds of princely states did. But the Nizam resisted and fought. His army, the Razakars, led by a man who was also the founder of the party Mr Owaisi belongs to, fought the Indian soldiers. It was Sardar Patel who ensured the Nizam’s army was defeated and forced to surrender.
Hyderabad was liberated by Patel and our soldiers, and all the brave people within the state of the Nizam who resisted his rule. I therefore believe every Indian will see this as Liberation Day.
Tell us about Assam, its development journey and the flood situation?
Assam is located at the intersection with Bangladesh and Bhutan. We are developing rapidly, transforming, as is the entire North-East, under the leadership of Modi. We are building infrastructure. We would be happy to invite entrepreneurs in all sectors. We also offer enterprises an access to the markets in Bangladesh, with whom we have improved relations. But most importantly, Assam now has sustained peace, and therefore, prosperity is following.
Geographically, Assam is the depository of waters from upstream, hence the rainfall and floods in China, Tibet and others; we invariably end up with floods once in a few years. The situation has worsened with global warming and climate change; this year has been bad....