The first phase of the seven-phased Lok Sabha elections is over and the BJP says it feels proud on being called a “nationalist party” and that development and nationalism are “synonymous”. In an interview to YOJNA GUSAI, Union minority affairs minister MUKHTAR ABBAS NAQVI called the SP-BSP-RLD alliance in Uttar Pradesh “gunahon ka gathbandhan” (alliance of crimes) and asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi to “work really hard” and mature before challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a debate.
The election season has finally begun and the first phase of polling is over. Will the BJP’s performance in this phase be the same as it was in 2014?
Not just in the first phase, our party will perform very well in almost all the (seven) phases. Our assessment shows that the BJP is ahead in almost all the parliamentary seats because voters trust our leadership and the performance of the Modi government. The Narendra Modi-led NDA not only performed but also reformed the functioning of the government to achieve good governance. The five years’ performance of the Central government is our main poll plank and our promise that the wheel of development will continue to roll is the core of our manifesto in which people have full faith. There is no policy paralysis or power brokers who are running the government, it’s the people of the country through Mr Modi who are running the government. Ye perform, reform aur transform karne wali sarkar hai.
Though your party always says that you are seeking a second term over the development issue, but your party leaders, including the top leadership, seem to be emphasising too much on the nationalism issue. Your opponents are criticising you for misusing the nationalism issue for electoral gains. Even your manifesto had a “heavy dose” of nationalism.
For us nationalism and development are linked. If you ignore one, you cannot achieve the other. Nationalism and development are synonymous. We feel proud that people call us a nationalist party. No one should have any problem if the BJP focuses on nationalism or nationalist issues.
But your opponents claim that you profess nationalism because your party’s performance report is poor.
Development was a dikhava (facade) for the earlier government and their allies, but the BJP-led NDA’s report card is exemplary. We followed our motto of “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” and “Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat” to the T. Our work for the youth, women, gaon, garib aur kisan have not only strengthened people’s faith in us but given us strength. A development-oriented atmosphere was created, whether it was rural electrification, LPG connectivity, houses for all, skill development, incentives to own a home in urban areas, robust infrastructure bringing down the rural-urban divide and also strengthening India’s image internationally — just a few examples to show our development report card.
Are you contesting the Opposition’s allegation that you failed on delivering on your 2014 poll promises?
If you recall, checking corruption was our number one promise and when the BJP-led NDA came to power, the first decision taken by the Union Cabinet was to set up a court-monitored SIT to check the generation of black money. During the Congress-led UPA regime, corruption was an aam baat (common thing). There was a time when the common man lost count of the number of corruption cases as they kept erupting. Who would have brought that (Christian) Michel to India over the AugustaWestland VVIP chopper scam? Compare it to how (Ottavio) Quattrocchi mama’s (uncle’s) accounts were defreezed and a red corner notice against him withdrawn and the manner in which he left the country — that — proved that the then government was helping him.
This government not only showed its commitment to act against corruption but brought people involved in such cases. Even those who have run away will be brought back. This government is not run by big liaisoning officers like the erstwhile government. If you recall how the onion crisis, the pulses crisis, the diesel crisis and the urea crisis used to be annual features, the Modi-led government cracked a whip on hoarding and black-marketing to make sure that people do not suffer.
Your party’s manifesto was labelled “jhansa patra” (document of deception) and a “bubble of lies” by the Congress, which claims that its Nyuntam Aay Yojana (Nyay) will be a gamechanger.
It is the people who will decide who deceived them and who they have faith in. The Congress’ own manifesto is a “lafaaji ka lollipop” (document full of bluff) and “dynasty ki dirty deeng” (dynasty’s dirty boast). But then even the Congress knows that it is not coming to power so it can promise anything and everything.
The mention of Article 370 and 35-A drew a sharp reaction from your former allies and Jammu and Kashmir’s satraps — the National Conference and the PDP. In fact, Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP, with whom you had formed your first government in the state and later snapped ties with, asserted that if Article 370 is revoked, it will end the accession of J&K and the state will be free from India.
Both Mehbooba Mufti and her friends, (Farroq and Omar) Abdullahs, are right. Ye to pucca hai ki Kashmir azaad hoga par wo azaad hoga terrorism se, wo azaad hoga separatism ki mentality se, aur terrorism aur separatism ke dost Mufti aur Abdullahs se (it is certain that Kashmir will be free but it will be free from terrorism, separatism and the friends of terrorism and separatism Ms Mufti and the Abdullahs). Article 370 is a hurdle in the development path in the state. Why should a state or a region suffer because the self-proclaimed custodians of the region do not want the state to prosper? Article 370 will be annulled and this is what the people of the state want.
You said development is the main focus of your party’s campaigning but then some of your leaders seem to be trying to polarise the electorate with their Ali-Bajrangbali remarks.
The BJP believes in free and fair elections unlike some of our opponents, who went to Wayanad and held the flag of the Muslim League in one hand and the agenda of the Jaamat-e-Islami in the other. The Muslim League is the same organisation which was responsible for the Partition of the country. The Jaamat-e-Islami is a banned organisation and the entire country knows of its involvement in suspicious activities. The Jaamat-e-Islami issued a fatwa against casting votes for the BJP. Fatwon ki dukaan chal rahi hai aur kuch parties fatwae kharidne main lage hue hain (opponents are buying fatwas against the BJP). Who is trying to polarise the elections now? We never sought a fatwa against anyone. We believe in fair and free elections and trust the voters.
Many political analysts believe that the SP-BSP-RLD alliance in UP could damage your prospects in the state where you won 71 parliamentary seats in 2014.
Well, in any alliance 2x2 is never 4. This is not the first time that UP is witnessing an experiment of an alliance. Remember how the Congress and the SP formed an alliance in 2017 for the Assembly elections and everyone knows the results (BJP won 325 of the total 403 seats). Another gunahon ka gathbandhan is ready this time which has no chemistry. For an alliance to be successful, the arithemetic, chemistry and physics of the participants should match.
In 2014, Rahul Gandhi was the vice-president of the Congress. In December 2017 he became the party president and that month his party’s performance in Gujarat Assembly polls and later winning key states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh has shown that the Opposition is in a resurgent mode.
Well, all I can say is that ever since Rahul Gandhi took over as the party president, he has turned from a “pappu” to a “gappu”. Wo gapp zyada karte hain (he boasts a lot). He wants to debate against the PM but we remember how he had once predicted an earthquake when he spoke in Parliament. Everyone knows where the earthquake came finally. He speaks like a non-serious and an immature person.
You (Mr Gandhi) want to debate with the PM who has not taken a single day off in the last five years while you picnicked for four-and-a-half years. You will really have to work hard and also become mature if you want to debate with Mr Modi.
Other than the “Hindi-heartland”, how will your party’s performance be in Odisha, West Bengal and in the southern states?
In both Odisha and West Bengal, the BJP is in a direct contest with the ruling parties, the BJD and the TMC respectively. The way Mamata Banerjee (the TMC supremo and West Bengal CM) is behaving, it shows how panicked she is. The TMC has failed the state completely and so has the BJD. We will perform well in the southern region as well.