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.