Hindustan Times (Bathinda)

‘BJP only party that changed the face and fate of Gujarat’


RAJKOT: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president JP Nadda has said the party is in a better position than it was in 2017 and will not only retain power in Gujarat but could well be setting a record of winning with an unpreceden­ted mandate in the state.

While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been making efforts to emerge as an alternativ­e in the state where elections have traditiona­lly been a bipolar contest between the Congress and the BJP, Nadda said his party’s contest is against the Congress and the AAP will forfeit deposit in a majority of the 182 seats going to the elections. Speaking to Smriti Kak Ramachandr­an, Nadda said that the BJP does not take AAP seriously as a political entity but takes their “mischievou­s and deceiving designs seriously”. Edited excerpts:

What is the poll plank for the BJP? Why will people vote to bring the party back to power?

The issue is developmen­t, and it is a one-way election. People have been with the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi; they still support us and want to bring back the BJP since this is the only party that changed the face and fate of Gujarat.

Today, Gujarat is known for its developmen­t model, it is a pharmaceut­ical and automotive hub. The standard of living has risen because of PM Modi. There is a network of roads, there is quality education, health care and people also have an attachment towards the party.

The BJP has dropped a significan­t number of sitting legislator­s and the ticket distributi­on exercise has caused rumblings within the party. How will the party manage the rebels?

The BJP is a cadre and ideology-based party, but also a big family. Sometimes, within families too, opinions vary, but issues are democratic­ally sorted. We have the mechanism to sort this issue out. Of course, there are expectatio­ns and concerns sometimes, but in the end, people in the party come together and join forces to make the lotus (party symbol) win. This time, too, you will see the results at the end.

The AAP has managed to dominate the political narrative. Is this a triangular contest?

The party is trying to make noise, but we have to look at its past record. What the party’s performanc­e in the previous elections has been… they first went to Varanasi (in 2014) where they lost badly; in Uttar Pradesh, they lost the deposit in 349 of the 350 seats they contested. In Uttarakhan­d, they lost deposit in 65 of 69 seats they fought on and in Goa, too, they lost deposit on 35 of the 38 seats they contested. This is how they will fare in Himachal Pradesh as well as Gujarat.

The party only focuses on advertisem­ents, there are banners everywhere, full page advertisem­ents; what is the purpose of having Punjab-rebridges; lated advertisem­ents in Gujarat papers? The government’s money is being misused. It’s a banner-based party and we are a cadre-based party. So, the fight is bipolar? The fight is with the Congress.

If the AAP is not a threat, why is there such disproport­ionate attention on the party? The party’s rank and file are engaged in countering and attacking the AAP?

It is my job to expose them. There is a huge difference in what they say and how they perform. There is a need to expose the discrepanc­y in their assertion and the reality. We do not take them politicall­y seriously but take their mischievou­s and deceiving designs seriously.

In 2017, the party’s seats fell from 115 to 99, how well is the BJP poised to improve its tally in the upcoming elections?

The numbers I will be able to tell as the campaign picks up, but we are very comfortabl­e and in a better position (than 2017) and will make new record.

If the BJP is so confident of getting a stunning mandate in Gujarat, why this campaign blitzkrieg?

The Prime Minister always says there should be no complacenc­y. It is the way the BJP functions; we are always aware of our opponents and leave no stone unturned. The practice of carpet bombing with leaders canvassing across is the traditiona­l way that has been followed in other states as well.

The decision to change the chief minister and the whole council of ministers was unpreceden­ted. The Opposition says it was an admission of administra­tive deficiency.

We have been in power in Gujarat for 27 years; we have carried out new experiment­s here.

This (change) can be a model too as this state is a laboratory where we can do experiment­s. In the past, we once changed all the councillor­s and candidates. Besides, it’s our internal decision.

The Congress put up a stiff fight in 2017. This time, they have flagged the issue of inflation.

The BJP has addressed all concerns. We have twice reduced prices of petrol and diesel.

The Opposition has no issues; we cannot give them vision. They need to look at their own tenure and compare it with how things stand today. During their time, there was a 30% dropout rate, which has come down to 1%. Look at the number of higher education institutio­ns that have come up across the state.

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