Newly appointed BJP president Nitin Gadkari, in a tête-à-tête with Zeenews.com’s Swati Chaturvedi on her programme Kahiye Janab, asserted that the BJP would create history by winning the General Election in 2014 and did not rule out projecting Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate.
Swati: How do you feel being the head of a party that is called a Hindu-divided family?
Nitin: I am very enthusiastic. We are all set to make a show of our strength on April 21 in a rally. And I feel that the BJP will come up in a big way.
Swati: In your party, people are alleging that the Bhartiya Janata Party was once a national party, now it is a Maharashtrian party. The leaders hailing from Bihar are being insulted?
Nitin:BJP has never insulted anyone.
Swati: Shahnawaz Hussain is disappointed. Ex-PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee made him a Cabinet Minister. You demoted him. Shatrughan Sinha is time and again voicing his unhappiness. Bihar elections are around the corner, what is all this?
Nitin: Shahnawaz Hussain has not uttered anything like this. In case he has, then you must certainly show it on TV. What he has not done, must not be talked about. Everything is going on fine.
Swati: When you took over as BJP president, you indicated willingness to take back ex-leaders like Govindacharya, Vinay Katiyar and Uma Bharati. Now that Uma Bharati wants to return, senior party leader Shivraj Singh Chauhan is against it?
Nitin: Any decision is based on everybody’s views, not necessarily a consensus. At the right time, the right decision shall be taken.
Swati: You are the BJP president. In case you want them to comeback, should not yours be the final word?
Nitin: The statement I had made was that in case people who have left want to rejoin, the party shall decide that. I even said that our core committee will confabulate and we will then certainly give it a serious thought. That’s what I had said and I stand by it.
Swati: A BJP leader himself told me that since you are a Maharashtrian, your attitude towards Bihari leaders is similar to the one shown by Raj Thackeray to North Indians?
Nitin: You first tell me the name of the person who said this. In case of no evidence, you must not talk about it. We are against Raj Thackeray’s outlook. Based on what a handful of people in the party say, there can’t be any trouble.
Swati:You are the principal opposition party. The new office bearers in the party set-up do not have a good electoral track record; for instance, Vinay Katiyar and Muktar Abbas Naqvi. Which face will you project?
Nitin: In the Congress, have not those who lost elections, been reinstated?
Anyway, in the BJP, there is Varun Gandhi, Navjot Singh Sidhu and Anant Kumar, who have won. The point is those people who have potential will be there in the organisation. If a few have lost polls, nothing will emerge out of it. We have a multifarious team comprising people from all walks of life.
Swati:People are also saying that BJP has become Bollywood Janata Party…?
Nitin:Hema Malini is a good worker. She is devoid of ego and works well. Whatever tasks are assigned to her, she executes them properly and also generates quite a bit of revenue for the party. Smriti Irani is good at public discourse, many women attend her speeches. It is not just because of her glamourous TV image. If we take you into the party, then would you say anchors must not be taken?
Swati:When VP Singh was made the prime minister, he had said that his job was to manage contradictions. Today, is Nitin Gadkari managing contradictions?
Nitin: My thought process is very clear. We take in those people who have potential. And they are from all backgrounds. For instance, we have 33% reservation for women within the organisation. There’s a good team in place and in the 2014 polls, we shall surely win and create history.
Swati: As soon as you joined, you said, Narendra Modi was PM material. Recently, he was grilled by the SIT for nine hours. The US and UK have till date not issued him a visa. Your own ally in Bihar, Nitish Kumar goes on record to say that he would not let him enter the state. Will Modi campaign in Bihar in the forthcoming polls?
Nitin: Narendra Modi is a role model for India from the development point of view. Besides, in India anyone can be quizzed by the SIT. On this basis, no accusations can be levelled. And the way politics is going on, CBI has become Congress Bureau of Investigation. It is conducting inquiries against people from all parties. This is politically motivated.
Today, India’s agricultural growth rate is -2%, Gujarat’s is 14%. The per capita income of the Muslim minority is the highest in Gujarat today. Also there have been more riots in other states than in Gujarat. Why don’t you focus on the Congress?
Modi is an elected leader of the state. When I was asked whether he has potential to become the country’s leader, I said, “Yes”. When I was asked whether he’ll represent the BJP in the 2014 polls, I had responded that in the party there are many people who display potential like Modi and who is to represent the party at that time is a decision for the party’s parliamentary board, which is its highest body, to take.
Gujarat has reached the number one position today due to Modi.
Swati:There can be no dispute as far as Gujarat’s growth is concerned. Statistics wipe out doubts. But simultaneously, it is also true that in the last polls, the BJP lost miserably where Modi campaigned. Even those figures are equally true. Nitish Kumar has refused to allow Modi from campaigning in Bihar….
Nitin: In an election, both victory and defeat are there. Neither winning nor losing is due to a single individual. All must accept victory and defeat together. It is wrong to assign the sole responsibility for defeat on Modi.
Swati: Has Modi been relegated only to the state of Gujarat today? In Bihar, elections are approaching and your party has many seats there. Will Modi be projected as the main campaigner in those polls?
Nitin: Narendra Modi is a national leader with mass appeal. The decision of who will campaign in Bihar rests with the state’s BJP unit.
Swati: Is Uma Bharti coming back?
Nitin:No decision has been taken on that yet. It is not necessary that if there’s no decision, there has to be a controversy. No meeting has been held yet. BJP is our house. Who has to enter our house and who doesn’t, we’ll decide that at a party platform via our system. I am the president and not a weak one. I’ll listen to all views and take my decision.
Swati: You have not taken Shahnawaz Hussain in your party’s parliamentary board. Should not a leader of his stature be a part of it?
Nitin:There is no standard code about who gets what and is placed where in the hierarchy. On the basis of your words, I am the newest and therefore not fit enough for my post. Can you call Rahul Gandhi as a senior leader of his party?
Swati:What about price rise?
Nitin:I have compiled date and made a PowerPoint presentation. In 25 countries, inflation is below 2% while in India it is 11%. The prices of wheat and sugar are cheap in the world, but not so in India. Our country’s per capita income is also less.
Inflation and price rise are related to wrong economic policies and bad governance. Whenever BJP was in power, there was no inflation.
Swati: You lost in Maharashtra. Despite the dismal record of the government, you did not make any gains…
Nitin: The problem was that our vote got divided because Raj Thackeray decided to separate, so owing to this factor, our MLAs lost. Otherwise we had 55-60 legislators and could have won easily.
Swati: How do you foresee your role as Nitin Gadkari with regard to the elections?
Nitin:We are an opposition party in a democracy. Winning an election is not our last objective. Of course it is important. But standing for people and launching rallies for their welfare is our job. We have initiated a signature campaign on price rise and will present it to the President on April 21. The UPA government has failed on account of farmers’ welfare, commodity exchange trading among other issues. There is also rampant black marketeering now.
Several people from various backgrounds will form a part of our massive rally and we shall make our voice heard through democratic methods.
Adapted by Ritam Banati