“Modi should con­test from UP”

Naren­dra Modi’s fate in Elec­tions 2014 hinges upon a strong show­ing in Bat­tle­ground Ut­tar Pradesh. Not sur­pris­ingly, BJP’s prime min­is­te­rial can­di­date has tasked his right-hand man and mas­ter elec­toral strate­gist Amit Anilchan­dra Shah, 51, with de­liv­er­ing

India Today - - INTERVIEW OFTHE WEEK -

Q. Fac­tion­al­ism is rife in the Ut­tar

Pradesh unit of BJP. How are you deal­ing with it? A. In ev­ery party run on demo­cratic prin­ci­ples, dif­fer­ences of opin­ion ought to be there. It is the sign of a healthy party. This is a Lok Sabha poll and not a Vid­han Sabha poll, so dif­fer­ences of opin­ion won’t blow up be­yond a point. Q. How is BJP choos­ing can­di­dates? A. We are stress­ing on qual­ity and winnabil­ity with a fo­cus on good can­di­dates from the back­ward castes. In gen­eral, there are three main cri­te­ri­ons for se­lec­tion: 1. Suc­cess in elec­toral pol­i­tics. 2. Lo­cal con­nect with con­stituents. 3. A good record of fight­ing against the mis­rule of the Sa­ma­jwadi Party ( SP) govern­ment. Q. Is there a Modi wave in the state? A. Why UP alone? A Modi wave is sweep­ing the en­tire coun­try. But its im­pact is more in UP be­cause of years and years of mis­gov­er­nance un­der SP and BSP rule. Q. Does your in­ter­nal sur­vey show that Modi’s pop­u­lar­ity is more than

that of BJP? A. It is true. Modiji’s per­for­mance in Gu­jarat as an ad­min­is­tra­tor and his ap­peal based on the com­mon man’s be­lief that his ar­rival will sig­nal a pos­i­tive change in the coun­try’s des­tiny is play­ing a big role. Q. There is a buzz that Modi is go­ing to con­test from Ut­tar Pradesh. A. The party has still not taken a de­ci­sion. But I feel he should con­test from UP. If the fu­ture PM con­tests from UP, 18 per cent of In­dia’s pop­u­la­tion will ben­e­fit and this will have a na­tion­wide im­pact. If UP comes out from the cat­e­gory of BIMARU states, the coun­try’s growth rate will jump to dou­ble-dig­its. Q. Which are your strong ar­eas in Ut­tar Pradesh? A. We are strong all over the state be­cause of the anti-in­cum­bency against the UPA Govern­ment and the fact that it has con­stantly re­ceived sup­port from SP and BSP. Plus, there is great anger against the SP govern­ment for its fail­ures on the law and or­der front and its un­abashed Mus­lim ap­pease­ment. Q. What do you mean when you say Mus­lim ap­pease­ment? A. Twenty-one ter­ror cases were with­drawn in which the ac­cused were Mus­lims. The SP govern­ment also tried to with­draw cases against Mus­lim lead­ers in­volved in the Muzaf­far­na­gar ri­ots. Even devel­op­men­tal pro­gram- mes are framed and im­ple­mented with an eye on Mus­lim votes. Com­pare this with Gu­jarat, where many Mus­lim ar­eas are wit­ness­ing true de­vel­op­ment for the first time since In­de­pen­dence.

Q. BJP too pub­licly hon­oured three of its lead­ers who were ac­cused of a role in the Muzaf­far­na­gar ri­ots. A. Wrong. BJP hasn’t hon­oured any­one gen­uinely in­volved in the ri­ots. We had to hon­our the three lead­ers be­cause the SP govern­ment had wrongly de­tained them un­der the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Act. They were vic­tims of SP’s Mus­lim ap­pease­ment. Q. Are you try­ing to bring back old RSS cadres to re­vive BJP in the state? A. RSS cadres are bound to get promi­nence be­cause of their de­vo­tion to pub­lic duty, dis­ci­pline and train­ing. Giv­ing promi­nence to such a na­tion­al­ist corps is good for the na­tion. Q. Do you think the Third Front has a chance of com­ing to power? A. In­dia’s pol­i­tics is bipo­lar. The Third Front is a make-be­lieve cre­ation of dis­tressed po­lit­i­cal lead­ers with na­tional am­bi­tions. It can never suc­ceed.

Pho­to­graph by M ZHAZO

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