FE­BRU­ARY 9?

India Today - - POLITICS -

BJP pres­i­dent Amit Shah doesn’t be­lieve in mask­ing his mes­sage with sub­tlety. For him, the con­cept of na­tion­al­ism is clear, and chant­ing the slo­gan of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” is an im­por­tant part of prov­ing one’s na­tion­al­is­tic cre­den­tials. And make no mis­take: this slo­gan can­not be equated with Jai Hind or Hin­dus­tan Zind­abad as he says, “Bahut an­tar hai ( there is a huge dif­fer­ence).” If a small per­cent­age of In­dia’s pop­u­la­tion doesn’t want to scream Bharat Mata ki Jai, he takes it upon him­self to “make them see rea­son”. “I agree that the de­bate over that slo­gan is mean­ing­less, but I must un­der­line that the slo­gan is older than the BJP or even the RSS. It is un­for­tu­nate that so many years af­ter In­de­pen­dence, we are still de­bat­ing a na­tion­al­ist slo­gan,” said Shah at the In­dia Today Con­clave 2016.

He also has a clear def­i­ni­tion of what is anti- na­tional. He doesn’t want to get into de­tails of the slo­gans raised dur­ing an event at the Jawa­har­lal Nehru Univer­sity on Fe­bru­ary 9 to com­mem­o­rate the third an­niver­sary of the hang­ing of Afzal Guru, con­victed for the at­tack on In­dian Par­lia­ment on De­cem­ber 13 in 2001. “What hap­pened on Fe­bru­ary 9? Was it In­de­pen­dence Day? Was it Re­pub­lic Day? That an event was or­gan­ised to com­mem­o­rate a con­vict who was the mas­ter­mind of Par­lia­ment at­tack was an anti- na­tional act,” Shah said.

He was also crit­i­cal of Congress vi­cepres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi’s pres­ence in JNU, of­fer­ing sup­port to the stu­dents. “I’m not say­ing that Rahul did any­thing wrong by go­ing to JNU. But he said that their voice had been sup­pressed and he was with them. By say­ing so he was sup­port­ing anti- na­tional el­e­ments.” He sought to dis­tance his party from the al­le­ga­tion that it was re­spon­si­ble for creat­ing a neg­a­tive im­age about JNU. “If the JNU im­age has been dented, it’s for them to in­tro­spect. The gov­ern­ment or the BJP has no role in it. We did not or­gan­ise the event,” he said.

The BJP pres­i­dent be­lieves that po­lit­i­cal par­ties must blow out of pro­por­tion the con­flicts that hap­pen in univer­sity cam­puses. “Ro­hith Vem­ula’s sui­cide was very un­for­tu­nate. But equally un­for­tu­nate was the sui­cide of nine other stu­dents in the same univer­sity dur­ing UPA rule. No­body raised a hue and cry then.”

On the con­tro­ver­sial is­sue of reser­va­tions, the BJP pres­i­dent was up­front, say­ing that the BJP is in favour of reser­va­tions for SCs, STs and OBCs. At the same time, he doesn’t sup­port mi­nor­ity sta­tus for the Ali­garh Mus­lim Univer­sity “as the law of the land doesn’t al­low it to claim mi­nor­ity sta­tus”. “The univer­sity must of­fer reser­va­tion to Dal­its and other back­ward classes.”

The BJP pres­i­dent has zero tol­er­ance for any act against na­tional in­ter­est, but he re­futes the al­le­ga­tion that the BJP gov­ern­ment at the Cen­tre is in­tol­er­ant to crit­i­cism. “We have tol­er­ance to ac­cept crit­i­cism against the prime min­is­ter, against our lead­ers or against the gov­ern­ment. But we will not tol­er­ate crit­i­cism of the coun­try,” he said.

And he has proof of his tol­er­ance. “So many car­toons are drawn on me. I upload all of them

SO WHAT HAP­PENED ON

WAS IT IN­DE­PEN­DENCE

DAY? WAS IT RE­PUB­LIC DAY? on my web­site.”

When re­minded of the BJP’s elec­toral prom­ise that it will pro­vide a cor­rup­tion­free gov­ern­ment, Shah shot back guar­an­tee­ing a clean gov­ern­ment till 2019. He is also hope­ful of build­ing the Ram Tem­ple in Ay­o­d­hya, a prom­ise that had found its place in the BJP manifesto.

But on the other big prom­ise of bring­ing back black money to In­dia, he sought pa­tience and more time. He claimed that in the very first Cab­i­net meet­ing of the Modi gov­ern­ment, an SIT was formed to in­ves­ti­gate the is­sue of black money, all in­for­ma­tion ac­quired from for­eign coun­tries was handed over to the SIT and the BJP gov­ern­ment also in­tro­duced the pro­vi­sion of jail terms for fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

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